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Untreated preeclamsia isn't a pregnancy complication of the past

With every advance in medicine, it seems as though expecting mothers in Greensville are able to better plan every step of their pregnancy and the first weeks of their child's life. However, as many can attest, an unexpected pregnancy complication or injury forces parents to cast aside many of those plans and seek trustworthy medical assistance, which may not be enough.

According to obstetricians, preeclampsia remains a major medical issue, even though there have been advances in medicine over the last several decades. If doctors fail to notice the symptoms in pregnant women, heightened blood pressure and elevated protein levels in urine, then mothers risk death during or shortly after childbirth.

North Carolina fans of the acclaimed TV show "Downton Abbey" quickly became familiar with this pregnancy-related condition and its tragic effects. During the series' recently concluded third season, one of the main characters succumbed to eclampsia during childbirth. Unfortunately, one of the doctors overseeing the birth warned that the character was exhibiting signs of preeclampsia, but another doctor brushed off those concerns. The young woman may have been saved had precautions been taken.

Even though the most recent season of "Downton" is set in the early 1920s, doctors still haven't discovered the cause of preeclampsia. They have, however, determined more ways to detect the condition and avert fatal consequences. In some cases, delivering the baby as soon as possible can prevent the death of the mother and other birth-related complications.

If nothing else, the popular TV show has helped educate expecting parents about potential medical conditions. At the same time, it is the responsibility of doctors to carefully monitor a mother's vital signs, particularly if they have a family history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure. This is the kind of thoughtful medical care that patients depend upon.

Source: The Advocate, "Eclampsia not limited to TV or history," Ellyn Couvillon, Feb. 13, 2013

  • North Carolina families may not know determine how to proceed after dealing with the effects of a preventable pregnancy-related injury. To find out more, please see our Raleigh pregnancy complications page.

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