Bayo Ajibola

PRE-ECLAMPSIA CAN IT BE PREVENTED?.Every woman wishes fora stress-free and healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are times this may be impossible due to certain inevitable medical conditions associated with pregnancy.  One of such conditions is Pre-eclampsia.

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Pre-eclampsia is a medical condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy.It is believed to occur when the placenta (an organ that connects baby’s blood supply to mother’s) mal-functions.

Its symptoms are high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine (proteinuria). These symptoms are not obvious and can only be detected by routine blood and urine tests carried out by a midwife or doctor.Besides high blood pressure and protein in the urine,other symptoms of the condition which are evident include:swollen feet, ankles, hands and face. The swelling is caused by the retention of fluid (oedema) in those areas mentioned. Further symptoms are: terrible headache; problems with vision; vomiting; and sometimes, excruciating pain below the ribs.

Pre-eclampsiacan lead to life-threatening complications for both mother and baby if ignored, not well-managed and not treated. In the mother, it can lead to Eclampsia (seizures in a pregnant woman). These seizures can affect the liver, kidney and lungs.  These could lead to grave consequence or outcome. In the baby, the condition can give rise to problems in growth and can even lead to a premature birth.

You are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia if:you are primigravid (pregnant for the first time); you are 40 and above; a family member once had the condition; you had a long gapor break between pregnancies; you had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy; you are having a multiple birth; you are obesewith a body mass index (BMI) of 35; you are hypertensive; you have chronic kidney disease; you are diabetic.

To treat pre-eclampsia, the only approach available is to deliver the baby. Once you are diagnosed with the condition, you are closely monitored till delivery. The severity of the condition will determine: if you should be admitted in hospital till delivery; how your baby should be delivered (whether by induction or by caesarean section), and when your baby should be delivered. After delivery,every symptom associated with the condition normalizes in no time.

The question now is:  Can Pre-eclampsia Be Prevented?

In view of its life-threatening nature, every expectant mother who is at risk of developing this condition will want to prevent it. Unfortunately, there are no preventive measures one can take against it. The mostadvisable approach is for the mother to ensure that she receives excellent antenatal care throughout her pregnancy. She should always keep her antenatal appointments and ensure that her blood pressure, urine and weight are monitored on a regular basis.The baby’s growth can also be monitored via ultrasound scans.

Lastly, a regular low-dose aspirin (a 75 mg tablet every day) may be prescribed, if necessary, for those at risk throughout the pregnancy.

Bayo Ajibola

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