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High blood pressure put baby’s life at risk

Until the beginning of her third trimester, Mrs. C, 26 and having her first baby, would have said her pregnancy was pretty normal. Things were progressing smoothly and she was busily preparing her home for her soon-to-be-born son.

Then, at the 30th week of pregnancy, she noticed a sudden weight gain; both her legs were swollen too. She gave me a call that day and promptly came to see me.

She looked anxious and was very concerned. Her face was puffy and her ankles were swollen from water retention. She told me that her shoe size had increased since her last appointment three weeks ago, and she was a larger size now. Even those felt a little tight on her.

I checked her blood pressure and it was alarmingly high at 200/100mm Hg. Her usual blood pressure was normal at 120/70mmHg. A large amount of protein was also found in her urine.

A routine ultrasound scan to chart the baby’s growth showed that he was small, with all his growth parameters below average. I told Mrs. C she had preeclampsia and that she should admitted to hospital at once for her surveillance and also that her baby. We began anti-hypertensive therapy straight away.

Hypertensive disorder in pregnancy (often referred to as preeclampsia) is a fairly common condition. It affects about 10 per cent of first pregnancies and can be very dangerous to both mother and baby even if the mother does not feel sick. Severe hypertension, as in Mrs. C’s case, can lead to maternal death and foetal demise.

The causes of preeclampsia are still unknown. Certain medical conditions such as chronic hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes are associated with higher risk of developing preeclampsia.

It is also more likely to develop in women who are pregnant with their first child, those who are younger than 20 and older than 40, those with multiple pregnancy and those who have had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy.

Symptoms include persistent headache, blurring o