Preeclampsia is a condition unique to pregnancy and the first twenty-four hours after delivery. It occurs in about 7 percent of first pregnancies and is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. The cause of preeclampsia is not known, but it is thought to be related to insulin resistance, obesity, a kidney disorder, or chemical imbalances. Although it begins to develop very early in pregnancy, preeclampsia usually not diagnosed until the third trimester. Hypertension, elevated hemoglobin level, increased urine protein content, nausea, stomach pain, headache, and blurred vision are signs of this disorder. Although it is difficult to predict who will develop preeclampsia, women having their first babies and underweight, poorly nourished, and heavy women are at the highest risk.
There is no cure for preeclampsia. However, women diagnosed with it may be given medications to reduce blood pressure. Healthful diets are recommended for all women with this disorder. The diet should be rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. Carbohydrate-containing foods should be of the low glycemic index variety. Some health care providers give women with preeclampsia 1.5 to 2.0 grams of calcium per day. Calcium supplements may effectively reduce blood pressure and appear to have few side effects. Vitamins C and E may also be given to help prevent some of the negative consequence of preeclampsia. This disorder should not be treated by restricting weight gain, caloric intake, fluids, or salt (sodium). These intervention not only don't work, but they may be harmful to both mother and fetus.