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Preeclampsia: the birth injury that women should be warned about

Imagine that you are a new mother. You have just delivered your first child without incident. But only days after being released from the hospital you experience dizziness, excessive nausea and vomiting, your reflexes have slowed and you’re suffering from more severe headaches than usual. Would you think this was a normal part of giving birth or would you recognize this as the warning signs of post-partum preeclampsia?

A lot times when people hear stories about birth injuries, they usually hear about how hospital negligence has affected a newborn child. Hardly ever do we hear stories about mothers who have also suffered injuries because of this same negligence. This might lead some people to think that such injuries do not occur. But as our Arizona readers will soon see, these injuries do occur and can easily be prevented if doctors would only inform mothers about potential post-delivery conditions.

From the scenario above you can see that post-partum preeclampsia is a condition that can arise after delivery. In fact, according to one maternal fetal specialist, first-time moms, women over 35 and women with a history of high blood pressure or renal disease are at higher risk for developing post-partum preeclampsia.

But because the condition is considered so rare, doctors often fail to warn women about their risk of developing it. Hospitals may even fail to identify warning signs before sending a woman home from the hospital. Because there is no stopping the disorder once it starts, explains the executive director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, women are at an increased risk of serious and even fatal injuries. It’s believed that roughly 76,000 women worldwide die from the condition each year.

Hospitals could do more to prevent death from preeclampsia, says the foundation’s director. So far, a task force with the foundation has successfully urged some states to provide verbal as well as written information about the condition prior to discharging new mothers from the hospital. It’s possible that this could be the most effective way of preventing preeclampsia deaths caused by negligence or a misdiagnosis in the future.

Source: ABC News, "High Blood Pressure Nearly Kills Mom After Normal Pregnancy," Susan Donaldson James, May 20, 2014

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