Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition that affects 2 to 8% of births in America. Identifiable during the latter stages of pregnancy, preeclampsia can cause several complications for both child and mother.

Doctors know little about the condition or how to treat it. They rely on early identification and monitoring to help suffering families. This lack of knowledge sometimes leads to a failure to diagnose preeclampsia, which may result in death for both mother and infant.

How to identify preeclampsia

Doctors can identify most cases of preeclampsia after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms can manifest as severe headaches, affected vision, abdominal pain, or increased urination. A doctor will test for preeclampsia by measuring levels of protein in a mother’s urine and monitoring blood pressure.

If a doctor suspects preeclampsia, there are few available treatments. A doctor may prescribe blood pressure medication or recommend low doses of aspirin to help treat symptoms. Increased prenatal tests and monitoring can keep risk factors low, but the most effective treatment is premature delivery. Nearly all 15% of premature births in the U.S. attribute their cause to preeclampsia.

A 2009 study revealed that about 10 million women worldwide develop preeclampsia. Of those cases, over 70,000 women and 500,000 infants die from complications. Because symptoms are erratic, misdiagnoses can occur. If a doctor fails to diagnose these symptoms, families may receive compensation for their losses.

Expectant mothers can look out for the following risk factors for preeclampsia:

  • History of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, diabetes, lupus, and kidney disease
  • Obesity
  • Mothers under age 20 or over age 40
  • First pregnancy
  • Multiple fetuses, like twins or triplets

Bring any questions to a local attorney

Families who have suffered because of preeclampsia may want to have a local lawyer familiar with birth injuries evaluate their legal claim. A failure to diagnose may incur a negligence charge, and if that negligence causes the death of the mother or infant, the doctor may face a wrongful death charge. An attorney can help families work through the logistics of any possible legal action while they focus on healing.