New Hope for Preeclampsia: Diagnosis and Treatment

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Two thousand, twenty-three (2023) may be one of the most important and historic years for the United States of America as we move forward in working towards understanding preeclampsia, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and even searching for a potential cure of this horrible condition that threatens the safety, health, and life of both mother and child during pregnancy and postpartum. It is sometimes seen and, other times there are no known signs of this condition.

However, research indicates that preeclampsia may be on the rise by as much as 20-25% in the last two decades. It is believed that African American women may be as much as four times more likely to get preeclampsia in their pregnancies than any other race or ethnicity, however the reason for this is unknown and so there is currently a call for research into this matter.

But, we have some exciting news this year! The Preeclampsia Foundation shared that the United States Food and Drug Administration has finally approved a brand new, simple blood serum test, that is predictive up to two weeks prior to a woman developing severe preeclampsia and the longitudinal research study that was performed in the United States even provides sufficient information to direct treatment for both mother and child, so much so, that it can help save lives! This test has even been in use in Europe since 2009 and their citizens have seen the positive impact that it has had on their ability to get ahead of the devastating effects of preeclampsia.

Unfortunately, many in the medical field believe that preeclampsia is a rare condition that is characterized only by “high-blood pressure”, and they don’t have a clue about what to look for or how to treat it. This is part what causes women and children to suffer from premature death or in the alternative life-long disabling conditions, including mental health disorders, or broken families often related to domestic abuse characterized by parental alienation of the mother by the father and other family members.

It’s time to bring more awareness to this medical condition that is a result of the heroic virtue that only women can do with their bodies, which is to nurture and carry new life into the world. This is not just a women’s issue; it’s a human rights issue because it’s about life, healthy, and safety. Pro-life advocates, human rights advocates, anti-abuse advocates, public health advocates, religious leaders, medical and mental health professionals, and so on. Whatever your “identity” is, this is an important issue that affects women who are struggling to survive from pregnancy related complications, including domestic violence and other trauma.

Almost half of all preeclampsia survivors felt major mental and emotional distress following their experiences. Women who have endured traumatic pregnancies such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELPP Syndrome have a higher incidence of postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) than women without these complications. Women who survive only preeclampsia are 4-10 times more likely to experience any one of or any combination of these mental health conditions.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a serious condition of pregnancy and can be particularly dangerous because many of the signs are ‘silent’ while some symptoms resemble “normal” effects of pregnancy on a woman’s body. Many women who suffer from preeclampsia don’t feel sick and may be surprised or become frustrated when they are admitted to the hospital or prescribed bed rest since they still feel well.

On the other hand, many other women do notice signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and are often left untreated, even for months at a time before they finally get someone’s attention, whereas sometimes it’s too late. This can lead to other serious complications like eclampsia, stroke, or even death. High blood pressure is an important sign of preeclampsia. There are some cases where the woman’s face has changed so much that a skilled physician or a person who knows her can say, “You need to be in the hospital, right now” and it’s enough to save her life.

Some other symptoms of preeclampsia include:
  • Swelling (Edema)
  • Protein in the woman’s urine (Proteinuria)
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Abdominal (Stomach Area) and/or Shoulder Pain
  • Sudden Weight Gain
  • Changes in Vision
  • Hyperflexia
  • Shortness of Breath, Anxiety

What you can do…

  • Educate yourself further about preeclampsia by going to the Preeclampsia Foundation’s website and learning more.
  • Watch the 1-Hour training video on YouTube that was originally live via Zoom on June 22, 2023. Three expert physicians/researchers shared the news and answered questions about the new FDA approved test.
  • Read the latest research study that the FDA used to approve this new simple, yet expensive, blood test. Note: Most of the cost of the test is a result of a piece of equipment, the original research, and how quickly the results are produced.
  • Send a note of support to a local hospital’s foundation, OB-GYN or primary care doctor, pastor, bishop, and pro-life group(s), along with information about the YouTube video, the latest research study, and the Preeclampsia Foundation, as well as a link to this entry and my contact information. Explain that there is a cost associated with being able to get women access to this test because of the equipment associated with it and with it being so new and effective, so the foundation, donors, and grants may be needed.
  • Donate to the Preeclampsia Foundation in gratitude for funding this research and support future research so that we may find more ways to prevent, diagnose, treat, and eventually cure preeclampsia and the devastating effects that so many of us who survive it live with day-to-day.
  • Donate in gratitude to this website so that I may continue to make this kind of information available to you and others.

Original publication date 07.09.2023. Post last updated on 05.28.2024.

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