What causes preeclampsia and eclampsia?

The causes of preeclampsia and eclampsia are not known. These disorders previously were believed to be caused by a toxin, called “toxemia,” in the blood, but health care providers now know that is not true. Nevertheless, preeclampsia is sometimes still referred to as “toxemia.”

To learn more about preeclampsia and eclampsia, scientists are investigating many factors that could contribute to the development and progression of these diseases, including:

  • Placental abnormalities, such as insufficient blood flow
  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental exposures
  • Nutritional factors
  • Maternal immunology and autoimmune disorders
  • Cardiovascular and inflammatory changes
  • Hormonal imbalances
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