Pre Eclampsia. What is it?

Pre Eclampsia is an illness, which only occurs in pregnancy. Indeed, it is the most common serious medical disorder of human pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as pre-eclamptic toxaemia (abbreviated to PET), and many years ago it was also known as "kidney fits". Pre Eclampsia can affect both the mother and her unborn baby. It usually arises during the second half of pregnancy, and can even occur some days after delivery. In the mother, it can cause several problems of which she may be unaware - such as high blood pressure (hypertension), leakage of protein into the urine (proteinuria), thinning of the blood (coagulopathy) and liver dysfunction. Occasionally, Pre Eclampsia can lead to convulsions (fits), a serious complication known as eclampsia. Also, when a pregnancy is complicated by PE, the baby may grow more slowly than normal in the womb or suffer a potentially harmful oxygen deficiency.


Medical information supplied by:
Professor Shaun Brennecke
Director of Perinatal Medicine, Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne