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A Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist Explains Preeclampsia

POSTED BY Dr. Yoni Barnhard
May 29, 2019  
There are good treatment options, and the reassurance of a safe pregnancy through the birth of your baby. 


Preeclampsia is, quite simply, when the expectant mother’s blood pressure elevates, usually after the 20th week of pregnancy. It’s important to catch and treat it to prevent a number of issues, including injury to the mother’s brain, kidneys and liver, and in severe forms, intrauterine fetal demise.

While preeclampsia isn’t predictable or preventable, doctors will pay special attention to those with  known risk factors, like history of chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, an age older than 35, and use of in-vitro fertilization, in order to make the pregnancy go as smoothly as possible, and to be able to move quickly if necessary.

Which is why, for Preeclampsia Awareness Month during the month of May, it’s a good time to make all pregnant women aware of this condition, especially what signs to watch for. The most important symptom to be attune to is a persistent and/or severe headache and visual abnormalities like seeing blurry or seeing spots in the eyes. Pain or discomfort right below your ribs and into your abdomen, and an altered mental state are other concerning signs. If any of that happens, get to the emergency room right away.

In addition to meeting all the guidelines and recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, White Plains Hospital has a few extra layers in place that help us to better identify any patient with elevated blood pressure that could indicate preeclampsia.

Catching it early – before it escalates to eclampsia, a very dangerous progression of the condition -- is key. Any patient suspected of having it will see me or Dr. Garfield Clunie, the Director of the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine here. As certified Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists, both of us are highly trained in the treatment of preeclampsia and other high-risk pregnancy issues.

Management of preeclampsia depends on gestational age, severity of the disease and its impact on both the mother and unborn child. The initial evaluation and management should take place in the hospital. Low-dose aspirin therapy during pregnancy modestly reduces the risk of preeclampsia in women at high risk for developing the disease.

For those women with more severe forms, they will be induced at 34 weeks, and the baby moved to the hospital’s Level 3 NICU which is equipped for the special care the baby needs until he is developed enough to go home with his parents. In most cases, after delivery, the mother’s symptoms disappear within 48 hours.

Preeclampsia can sound scary, but with regular prenatal checkups, careful monitoring, and use of best practices and responses, mom and baby can make it through the pregnancy safe and sound.
 
Click for more information about White Plains Hospital’s Maternity Program and Services. To find an OBGYN, please call (914) 849-MyMD.

Tags: eclampsia, high-risk pregnancy, maternal fetal medicine, preeclampsia
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