Chicago Preeclampsia Lawyer | Illinois Maternal Injury Attorney

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Injuries Caused By High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy - Illinois Birth Injury Lawyer

During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, a mother may experience a variety of conditions that can affect her own health and that of her baby. In addition to taking steps to minimize the risk of injury to the child, medical personnel should be sure to provide treatment to protect the mother from harm. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition that commonly occurs during pregnancy.

What Is Preeclampsia?

A pregnant mother who has not previously had any issues with blood pressure may experience the sudden onset of high blood pressure. Preeclampsia also may involve weight gain, swelling in the hands and feet, high levels of protein in the mother's urine, shortness of breath, and severe headaches.

Preeclampsia usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and if it is not treated promptly, it can result in serious injuries to the mother, including failure of organs such as the liver or kidneys, seizures, or stroke. Mothers may also experience a condition known as HELLP Syndrome, which refers to hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Preeclampsia can also increase the risk of heart disease.

In addition to risking harm to the mother, preeclampsia can result in placental abruption or a restriction of blood flow to the infant. This may result in asphyxia and brain injuries that lead to conditions such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or Cerebral Palsy.

In some cases, preeclampsia may be treated by prescribing bed rest, a change in diet, or blood pressure medication. However, immediate delivery may be necessary in order to avoid serious injuries to the mother and child. In many cases, a Cesarean section will be performed, although labor induction may also be an option if the pregnancy is close to full term. Following premature delivery, the child may need to receive care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for several days or weeks.

Risk Factors for Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is one of the most common complications that can occur during pregnancy, affecting around 1 in 20 women. Due to the dangers it presents to both mothers and children, doctors should be aware of factors that may increase the risk of this condition. These include:

  • Pregnancy-related factors - If this is the mother's first pregnancy, if she is pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, or more), or if the child was conceived using in-vitro fertilization, the risks of preeclampsia are higher.
  • Demographic factors - African-American women and mothers who are under the age of 20 or over the age of 35 are more likely to experience preeclampsia.
  • Health issues - Conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell disease, or polycystic ovarian syndrome increase the risks of preeclampsia. Obesity can also be a factor, especially if the mother's body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.
  • Medical history - Preeclampsia is more likely to occur if the mother experienced this condition in a previous pregnancy, or if it affected others in her family, such as her mother, sisters, or grandmothers.


If preeclampsia is not timely diagnosed and treated, it may progress to eclampsia, which is an extremely dangerous condition for mother and baby. Eclampsia occurs when the mother's blood pressure becomes so high as to trigger seizures. These seizures not only interrupt normal maternal brain activity, but also result in convulsions and reduced oxygen flow to the fetus. The only available treatment for eclampsia is delivery, which must occur quickly to prevent further harm to mom and baby. Eclampsia is usually preventable through patient education and prompt intervention.

Due to the dangers that preeclampsia presents, medical personnel should recognize the signs of this condition and take immediate steps to protect the health of the mother and child. Injuries that occur because of preeclampsia can result in both immediate health concerns and long-term disability, which can have a massive financial impact on a family. In these cases, parents may be concerned about their ability to meet their children's needs. At the Birth Injury Law Alliance, we can help you understand the forms of financial assistance that are available to you, and we will work with you to determine whether your injury occurred because of medical negligence. To schedule a free consultation and learn about your options, contact us at 312-462-4200.

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