Dr. Lam recalls when pregnant women usually present with preeclampsia and describes the causes.
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When Preeclampsia Appears Well preeclampsia can occur throughout pregnancy, but we rarely see it before 20 weeks. If we do see it that early it’s usually associated with a major chromosome issue with the fetus such that the woman has what’s called a molar pregnancy or a chromosomally abnormal pregnancy overall. Most preeclamptics will present late in pregnancy, in the third trimester, and just be careful watching with her obstetrician. The types of patients that really pose the biggest issues are the ones who get severe disease where the disease appears very early in the third trimester such as 24 weeks onward, and the reason why is that these women tend to become the sickest and the babies tend to have the biggest issues in terms of growth as well. There are many different theories for why preeclampsia arises and we haven’t been able to settle on one particular reason. More than likely, preeclampsia is a group of different diseases. My theory is that preeclampsia is a group of different diseases that all appear similar and therefore may have multiple different causes. Right now there are five major theories that are being bandied about in the academic community for causing preeclampsia amongst them are things such as inflammatory factors, immunological issues between mother and father, abnormal invasion of the arteries of the placenta into the mother’s uterus, all these different things that can cause some sort of imbalance within the mom that can lead to her having high blood pressure and losing protein. Yes, it can and that is actually something that also deserves careful watching. So if a woman is noticing things such as high blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, seeing bright flashing lights, all these things, those are symptoms of preeclampsia. About a quarter of all preeclamptic cases can actually occur after delivery as well.