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General Information

Pre-Eclampsia (sometimes known as PIH or Pregnancy Induced Hypertension, or as toxaemia) is a form of high blood pressure during pregnancy. High blood pressure can lead to reduced blood flow to various organs within the mother, including to the placenta. Placental abruption may occur (where the placenta separates from the uterus), and other problems such as poor growth of the baby may be present.

Pre-Eclampsia is characterised by three conditions, high blood pressure (higher than 140/90, or a big increase in the mother's usual blood pressure), protein in the urine and oedema. Other symptoms to watch for include blurred vision, sudden weight gain, unusual nausea or vomiting, pain in the upper right area of the abdomen and urinating small amounts. 

The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby, however this may not be immediately necessary in all cases. Treatment depends on how severe the condition is. Bed rest and/or hospitalisation may be necessary for milder cases; regular monitoring of both the baby and mother will take place to ensure that both are remaining as healthy as possible. Medicines to lower blood pressure, or Magnesium Sulphate (a drug used to prevent seizures) may be given. If pre-eclampsia is severe, causing distress to the baby or posing a significant health risk to the mother, the baby will be delivered, often by emergency caesarean section.

The onset of pre-eclampsia can be very sudden, with the mother going from feeling "quite healthy" to being very sick in a matter of hours. 

Internet Links

PEARLS - Preeclampsia Research Laboratories
Medline Plus Health Information - Preeclampsia
eMedicine - Pregnancy, Preeclampsia
Merck Manual - Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Support Groups

Australian Action on Pre-eclampsia (AAPEC) Inc.
Information and Support for women and families who have suffered from this condition.
PO Box 29
Carlton Sth Vic 3053
(03) 9330 0441

Personal Stories

A Million Tears - Tania's story


This information is intended as general background information only. Please check with your doctor or other health care provider for further and more specific information on how any condition affects you and/or your baby's health and before acting on any information presented here.

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