Preeclampsia (pree-i-KLAMP-see-uh) and eclampsia (ih-KLAMP-see-uh) are pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders. In preeclampsia, the mother’s high blood pressure reduces the blood supply to the fetus, which may get less oxygen and fewer nutrients. Eclampsia is when pregnant women with preeclampsia develop seizures or coma. NICHD and other agencies are working to understand what causes these conditions and how they can be prevented and better treated.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia are pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders. Preeclampsia is a sudden spike in blood pressure. Eclampsia is more severe and can include seizures or coma.
The causes of preeclampsia and eclampsia are unknown. Several factors, such as insufficient blood flow to the placenta, could contribute to the development and progression of these diseases.
Women with preeclampsia are at increased risk for organ damage/failure, preterm birth, pregnancy loss, and stroke. Eclampsia means a woman is having seizures, which may lead to coma or death.
Risks to the fetus include lack of oxygen and nutrients, preterm birth, and stillbirth. Infants born preterm due to preeclampsia are at higher risk of some long-term health issues.
The exact number of women who develop preeclampsia is not known. Some scientists and health care providers estimate that preeclampsia affects about 3.4% of pregnancies in the United States.
Pregnancy-related hypertension disorder symptoms can include high blood pressure, protein in urine, hand/face swelling, headache, vision problems, abdominal pain, seizures, & nausea/vomiting.
Providers check a pregnant woman's blood pressure during each prenatal visit. If blood pressure is high, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy, they do more tests to diagnose the problem.
Find answers to other common questions about preeclampsia and eclampsia, such as how to reduce risk and whether the conditions are likely to recur in a subsequent pregnancy.