Effects of Preeclampsia on the Mother and Baby June 21, 2024.

Effects of Preeclampsia on the Mother and Baby

Preeclampsia is a condition that causes an expecting mother to develop high blood pressure suddenly. In most cases, women didn’t previously have high blood pressure.

In addition, preeclampsia causes excess protein in the mother’s urine and other issues that arise after 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, it can also develop after pregnancy, but it is rare.

In the United States, preeclampsia affects 1 in every 25 pregnancies. Many women give birth to healthy babies, even if they develop this condition. This positive outcome is usually due to the early detection and treatment of this condition.
But, if preeclampsia is left untreated, serious life-threatening complications can happen to both the mother and baby.

What Are The Causes and Risk Factors?

The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown, however, several risk factors can contribute to this condition.

Expecting mothers who are more likely to develop preeclampsia include women who:

  1. Are over the age of 35.
  2. Have a family history of preeclampsia.
  3. Have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease.
  4. Are expecting multiple babies (twins, triplets).
  5. Had preeclampsia during a prior pregnancy.
  6. Have an autoimmune condition.

It is important to note that preeclampsia can happen to anyone, even if they don’t have any of the risk factors listed above.

What Is the First Sign of Preeclampsia?

The biggest first sign is unusually high blood pressure, especially when they typically have normal blood pressure. The mother may also notice sudden weight gain and swelling in the face, hands, and ankles, due to water retention. Other symptoms include blurry vision, shortness of breath, dark spots in vision, and upper abdominal pain.

These symptoms can be hard to distinguish from normal pregnancy symptoms, so it is always best to contact your doctor if you have any concerns.

Can It Be Treated?

Expecting mothers can be given medications to help manage preeclampsia. Antihypertensive drugs are given to lower blood pressure, corticosteroids are provided to help the baby’s lungs develop faster, and anticonvulsants are given to prevent seizures. But, these medications only manage the condition, they don’t cure it.

The only cure is to deliver the baby, which can cause complications if the fetus is not fully developed.

Long-Term Effects of Preeclampsia on the Mother

Without proper treatment and monitoring, preeclampsia can be fatal for both the mother and baby. However, even with treatment, the mother may experience complications during and after pregnancy.

  1. Kidney Damage: Kidneys filter waste and extra water, so they don’t build up in the blood. However, high blood pressure can negatively affect the blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the kidneys, making the kidneys not work properly. This causes toxic waste to build up in the body, so mothers may suffer from severe kidney damage or even kidney failure.  
  2. Eclampsia. When preeclampsia is left untreated, there is excess stress on the blood vessels due to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can make the brain swell, which can cause seizures or a coma. This condition is known as eclampsia and it is fatal without proper treatment.
  3. HELLP Syndrome. Preeclampsia can severely damage the liver and blood cells, which causes a condition called HELLP Syndrome. This condition is a medical emergency and requires prompt treatment. HELLP Syndrome stands for: Hemolysis (red blood cells breaking down), Elevated Liver Enzymes (chemicals that cause faster bodily reactions), and Low Platelet Count (a part of the blood that makes it clot).
  4. Placental Abruption. This condition causes the placenta to detach from the wall of the uterus. Severe placental abruptions can cause excessive bleeding, which can be life-threatening.
  5. Cardiovascular Disease. Studies show that women with preeclampsia have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future. Common types of cardiovascular disease that occur include heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

Long-Term Effects of Preeclampsia on Child

Preeclampsia can create issues for the child as they are developing in the womb if the mother is not properly monitored and treated. These complications can cause severe, long-term effects on the child as they grow up.

  1. Fetal Growth Restriction. During a pregnancy complicated with preeclampsia, the mother’s arteries that carry blood to the placenta do not work at their full capacity. This causes the baby to receive less blood, oxygen, and nutrients, which slows down their development. Fetal growth restriction can affect the child by causing developmental delays and an increased risk for heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
  2. Premature Birth: Women with preeclampsia may experience unplanned premature births, which occur before 37 weeks. However, many women with this condition also are induced and have a planned premature birth to treat preeclampsia. Premature births can cause several issues for the child, such as lung problems, heart problems, cerebral palsy, diabetes, and cognitive deficits.
  3. Low Birth Weight: Newborns who weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces are considered to have a low birth weight. Problems associated with low birth weight include respiratory distress, jaundice, infections, and bleeding in the brain. Babies with a low birth rate may also be at a higher risk for developing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease later in life.
  4. Placental Insufficiency. In some cases, preeclampsia can lead to placental insufficiency, which can unfortunately cause a stillbirth. A stillbirth can occur if the placenta does not provide the baby with enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients.

Can You Sue A Medical Provider For Not Diagnosing Preeclampsia

If you or your child were harmed because a doctor failed to diagnose or treat preeclampsia, you may be entitled to compensation. Doctors have a duty to correctly treat and diagnose their patients to avoid complications. But, if the doctor breaches this duty, then they could be held liable for negligence.

We encourage you to contact a medical malpractice attorney, so they can review your case to determine who was at fault for your, or your baby's injuries.

Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys

At The Mellino Law Firm, our attorneys are dedicated to holding medical providers accountable for causing permanent or debilitating injuries to mothers and babies during pregnancy.

Our medical malpractice attorneys specialize in these cases in order to get our clients the best results possible. We also limit the number of cases we take, so we can devote our resources and full attention to every case. Our team is dedicated to recovering compensation for families who suffered harm due to negligence. But, don’t take our word for it, our results and reviews speak for themselves.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries due to inadequate medical care for preeclampsia, call our Cleveland-based office at (440) 333-3800, or fill out our contact form, to schedule a free initial consultation.