By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Eclampsia is a dangerous complication of pregnancy that occurs following a condition called pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia refers to the high blood pressure and rapid weight gain that can occur in pregnancy.
Some of the features and symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:
- The condition is often seen in first-time pregnancies.
- Underlying vascular disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease all increase the risk of pre-eclampsia.
- Women with twin or multiple pregnancies are at a greater risk.
- A family history of the condition can also increase the risk of pre-eclampsia.
- The level of urinary protein is increased and urine may appear cloudy or frothy in severe cases.
- Eclampsia is a form of generalized seizure called tonic-clonic seizure.
- The seizure is usually preceded by headaches, temporary cortical blindness (loss of vision), nausea and vomiting.
- As pre-eclampsia advances, abdominal pain, liver failure symptoms, pulmonary edema and low urine output (oliguria) may also be observed.
- The baby may have been severely compromised and there may be placental bleeding and separation of the placenta from the walls of the womb, which is called placental abruption.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: May 26, 2014