Women's Health

What is Early Onset Pre-eclampsia?

Maria Barnes Davis, pregnant for the first time, said everything seemed fine until about 25 weeks into it. “All of a sudden, I looked down at my hands, and my feet and hands were incredibly swollen and I gained, unfortunately, 11 pounds in a week,” she tells Local 12’s Liz Bonis.

Donna Lambers MD, a maternal-fetal medicine expert, knew right away what Maria’s condition was: early onset pre-eclampsia.

What Is Pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that occurs when women who are pregnant develop hypertension. Usually, pre-eclampsia leads to early deliveries.

In an effort to delay that, Dr. Lambers offered Maria the option to participate in a unique study that’s being conducted nationwide. It’s testing the use of natural protein, which replaces a substance in the body, which keeps blood clots from forming.

“Pre-eclampsia is likely a process of clotting in the placenta, and the reason I say likely is we really don’t know what causes pre-eclampsia,” Dr. Lambers explains.

The Longer Before the Mom Delivers the Baby, the Better

While we’ve known about this condition for years and years, we don’t know a lot about its treatment and, more importantly, prevention of complications from it. However, she says we do know that the longer a baby stays inside a woman’s body, the better.

“We’ve found, actually, in the past three years that for women that were diagnosed with this exact same condition, somewhere between 24 and 30 weeks gestation of pre-eclampsia, over half of those babies die,” she points out. “If you can lengthen that pregnancy from 24 to 28 weeks, the chances of survival go up to 90 percent.”

Maria, the thirtieth patient in the trial, is feeling good. “We don’t’ know if it’s the placebo or it’s the study protein, but we feel like we’ve made it longer than we expected to,” she says. “So far my lab work and everything looks like it’s really good. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to make it to near term.”

Maria's original due date was Sept. 8, 2015, so every week closer to that date is great for mom and baby.


Local 12

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Last Updated: August 11, 2015