Do You Really Understand The Significance of Pre-Eclampsia?

Do You Really Understand The Significance of Pre-Eclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that affects one in every ten pregnancies and can happen to any expectant mother. Despite the reasonably common diagnosis, there is a lack of awareness of the significance of pre-eclampsia to both mother and baby.

Whilst preeclampsia most often occurs during a first pregnancy, it can occur in any pregnancy and is a rapidly progressive condition. It is characterised by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

Pre-eclampsia usually develops from mid-pregnancy, around 20 weeks or around delivery. There is no cure to pre-eclampsia but, for the health of both mother and baby, the only option is delivery of the baby. As a result 15-20% of all premature births are due to the identification of pre-eclampsia. It is imperative that pre-eclampsia is diagnosed promptly, and proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage the condition. During each antenatal visit, the midwife should obtain blood samples, take urine samples, record blood pressure and take an accurate history to detect any relevant symptoms as soon as possible, allowing early referrals to hospital to be made.

If a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia is either missed, or identified and not managed correctly, it can lead to detrimental effects for both the mother and the baby.

At Wolferstans, we are sadly pursuing an action of behalf of a mother who, up until 33 weeks pregnant, had a normal and uneventful pregnancy. However, during an antenatal appointment, she had raised blood pressure and protein in her urine. It was identified that she may be suffering from pre-eclampsia by her midwife. For the remainder of her pregnancy tests showed traces of protein and raised blood pressure, and she developed swelling in her hands and feet.

At just over 40 weeks pregnant, her blood pressure increased and she was referred to hospital for monitoring. She was told that the impression was that she had pre-eclampsia and hypertension and that the safest option was induction of labour to ensure the safe delivery of her baby. Ultimately a decision was made to discharge her. She went into labour overnight, telephoned for advice and was told to wait for the labour to develop. By the time of her arrival into the maternity unit sadly it was too late and she lost her baby due to consequences of pre-eclampsia and hypertension. This is an example of an extremely sad case, and raises the importance of appropriate management once a diagnosis has been made.

The impact on families following the loss of a baby is devastating and Wolferstans are supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week. If you or any members of your family been affected by baby loss or any injury at birth, and you would like to receive free independent legal advice, without any obligation, please contact Ann Ball on 01752 292374 or e-mail

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