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What are the risks of preeclampsia & eclampsia to the fetus?

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Preeclampsia affects the flow of blood to the placenta. Risks to the fetus include:

  • Lack of oxygen and nutrients, leading to poor fetal growth due to preeclampsia itself or if the placenta separates from the uterus before birth (placental abruption)
  • Preterm birth
  • Stillbirth if placental abruption leads to heavy bleeding in the mother

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation External Web Site Policy , each year, about 10,500 infants in the United States and about half a million worldwide die due to preeclampsia.1 Stillbirths are more likely to occur when the mother has a more severe form of preeclampsia, including HELLP syndrome.

Preeclampsia also can raise the risk of some long-term health issues related to preterm birth, including learning disorders, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, deafness, and blindness. Infants born preterm also risk extended hospitalization and small size. Infants who experienced poor growth in the uterus may later be at higher risk of diabetes, congestive heart failure, and hypertension.2


  1. Preeclampsia Foundation. (2012). FAQS. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/faqs External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. Cosmi, E., Fanelli, T., Visentin, S., Trevisanuto, D., Zanardo, V. (2011). Consequences in infants that were intrauterine growth restricted. Journal of Pregnancy. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jp/2011/364381/cta External Web Site Policy [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 06/18/2013
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