Searching for Preeclampsia's Cause; Women's Health; Scientific American Presents; by Brown; 2 Page(s)
Michelle Wemple had a picture-perfect pregnancy. She hiked. She ate well. She felt healthy and hopeful. So her 36th-week prenatal checkup came as a shock. For some reason, Wemple's blood pressure was soaring. A urine test also showed her kidneys were leaking protein. Her doctor suggested inducing labor-immediately. "How could things suddenly go so wrong?" Wemple asked. "I'd done everything I possibly could to be healthy. And I didn't feel sick." Yet Wemple-like one in 20 pregnant women-had preeclampsia.
Women with preeclampsia, which is also called toxemia of pregnancy, suddenly develop high blood pressure and begin to retain fluid and excrete vital proteins. If the baby isn't delivered quickly or the physician can't lower the woman's blood pressure using drugs, the condition can progress to full-blown eclampsia, which brings on deadly seizures.