World Preeclampsia Day is marked on May 22 to raise awareness about the blood pressure condition during pregnancy that causes more than 70,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 fetal deaths worldwide every year.

The theme for this year's celebration, "Move Preeclampsia Research Forward," aims to improve the current treatment procedures for preeclampsia, which begin only after delivery.

Preeclampsia affects between 5-8% of pregnancies in the U.S., and is one of the leading causes of preterm deliveries. The current treatment for preeclampsia focuses on monitoring blood pressure and managing the conditions till the baby is delivered.

Studies have shown that women who suffered preeclampsia during pregnancies are at risk of developing chronic high blood pressure within 20 years of giving birth, and can suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

Preeclampsia not only affects maternal health, but also has a strong impact on fetal growth and development. The condition increases the risk of low birth weight in children, as it prevents the fetus from getting adequate blood, oxygen, and nourishment.

It can cause complications in breathing, vision and hearing issues, and cerebral palsy in children. Children, born to mothers who have preeclampsia, are also at a higher risk of developing heart and circulatory conditions later in life.

According to studies, preeclampsia increases the chances of placental abruption, which leads to heavy bleeding and fatal consequences for both the mother and the child.

Who is at risk?

Certain factors such as multiple pregnancies, first pregnancy, and pregnancy at a later age increase the risk of preeclampsia. Health conditions such as migraines, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS), urinary tract infections, and certain autoimmune conditions can also increase the risk of preeclampsia. Women who are overweight or with a family history of preeclampsia are also at a heightened risk.

The early symptoms

Pre-eclampsia usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. However, in some cases, it can be identified earlier through symptoms such as:

  • High blood pressure-systolic pressure above 140 mm Hg or diastolic pressure above 90 mm Hg
  • Protein in urine
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Low blood platelet count
  • Vision disturbances
  • Headaches
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of hands, face, feet, and ankles
Preeclampsia affects between 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. and is one of the leading causes of preterm deliveries. pixabay