Pre-eclampsia is the onset of high blood pressure or hypertension and proteinuria, or protein in the urine, in a pregnant woman who is past 20 weeks gestation.  During each prenatal visit, your doctor or nurse should be checking your blood pressure for development of pregnancy induced hypertension and monitoring your urine for the presence of protein.  If pre-eclampsia is not diagnosed or properly treated, it could lead to a decrease in blood supply and oxygen to a baby, causing brain injury or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in a newborn.

If the pre-eclampsia is mild and a baby is not yet full term, a mother will likely be instructed to lay on her left side, visit her obstetrician more frequently, decrease salt intake, increase water consumption and increase the amount of protein in her diet.  Unfortunately, pregnancy-induced hypertension will continue until the baby is delivered, so the goal is to control blood pressure to help maintain proper blood flow to the baby.

If the pre-eclampsia worsens, a pregnant mother may experience headaches, vision problems, difficulty breathing, swelling in hands, feet and face, pain under the ribs and change in mental status.  In severe cases of pre-eclampsia, a doctor may prescribe blood pressure medications until pregnancy has progressed far enough to safely deliver.  Steroids may also be given to help the baby’s lungs mature.

If pre-eclampsia is not properly diagnosed or treated, it can lead to a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the placenta, premature birth, placental abruption, birth asphyxia, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain.

If your child has cerebral palsy or another birth injury as the result of possible medical malpractice, you may want to contact a birth injury lawyer or contact a cerebral palsy lawyer for a free evaluation of your case.