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Preeclampsia: Critical Medical Information Beyoncé Didn’t Tell You in Her September Vogue Story

August 13, 2018

As the September issue of Vogue hits newsstands, the world is learning that Beyoncé had toxemia when she was pregnant with her twins, that she was on bed rest for more than one month, and that she required an emergency C-section.

Below are answers to the seven most common questions expectant parents ask about toxemia — more commonly known as preeclampsia — that Beyoncé didn’t address in her Vogue interview.

What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a sudden increase of the mother’s blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy that can be life-threatening to both the mother and baby. Preeclampsia is reportedly the leading cause of maternal and perinatal mortality, accounting for 50,000 to 60,000 deaths worldwide per year.

How Frequently Does Preeclampsia Occur?

Approximately 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.

What Factors Increase a Woman’s Risk for Preeclampsia?

Factors that increase a woman’s risk for preeclampsia include:

  • Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy — increases a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia in a subsequent pregnancy by seven times
  • Family history — 20% to 40% of daughters with a mom who had preeclampsia will develop it too; 11% to 37% of women with a sister who had preeclampsia will also get it
  • Chronic high blood pressure prior to pregnancy
  • Kidney disease kidney disease prior to pregnancy
  • Pregnancy at age 40 or older
  • Obesity
  • Multiple gestation (such as being pregnant with twins or triplets)
  • African American ethnicity

What Are the Symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Too much protein in the urine, called proteinuria
  • Swelling of the expectant mother’s face, hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Right upper quadrant abdominal pain

Why Is Preeclampsia Dangerous?

When preeclampsia is not properly diagnosed or treated, it can lead to cerebral palsy for the baby, eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, placental abruption and other serious conditions.

  • Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and to maintain balance and posture for which there is no cure.
  • Eclampsia is a condition in which a pregnant woman experiences seizures, which are life-threatening to both the mother and baby.
  • HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count syndrome) is a particularly severe form of maternal hypertension that can lead to liver complications and requires early delivery.
  • Placental abruption is a premature separation of the placenta from the uterus that can cause an acute and potentially catastrophic loss of oxygen to the baby.

How Is Preeclampsia Treated?

When a pregnancy is at 37 weeks or later, preeclampsia usually is treated by delivering the baby. Prior to 37 weeks, the expectant mother and her doctor will generally want to allow the baby more time in the womb to develop. Treatment may include:

  • Bed rest to lower blood pressure and increase the blood flow to the placenta
  • Monitoring the mother through blood and urine tests
  • Monitoring the baby through ultrasound, heart rate monitoring, assessment of fetal growth and amniotic fluid assessment
  • Anticonvulsive medication to prevent the mother from having seizures
  • Hospitalization in severe cases so that the mother can receive intravenous blood pressure medication and steroid injections to help accelerate development of the baby’s lungs

What Happens If I Have Been Injured By Preeclampsia or My Baby Has Been Injured By Preeclampsia?

If you or your child has been injured due to the failure by your doctor, midwife or other healthcare provider to diagnose or properly treat preeclampsia, you may have a medical malpractice claim. The birth injury lawyers at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig LLP are pursuing medical malpractice claims for mothers and children injured by preeclampsia. The lawsuits filed on behalf of preeclampsia victims and families seek damages for death or injury to the mother and/or baby, medical bills, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering, and loss of the pleasures of life.

A sampling of recent results achieved by Feldman Shepherd attorneys Carol Nelson Shepherd, Daniel S. Weinstock, Patricia M. Giordano, G. Scott Vezina and Carolyn M. Chopko in birth and neonatal injury cases includes:

$78.5 Million Verdict in Philadelphia Cerebral Palsy Case

$30.5 Million Verdict in Georgia Birth Injury Case

$7.5 Million Recovery for Negligent Labor and Delivery

$7 Million Settlement for Brain Injured Child in Upstate Pennsylvania

$6.5 Million Settlement of New Jersey Birth Injury Case

$5.75 Million Settlement of Pittsburgh, Pa Birth Injury Case


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