Preeclampsia, also written pre-eclampsia, is a condition during pregnancy when there is a sudden, sharp rise in blood pressure, swelling (edema) and albuminuria (excess protein albumin leaks into the urine). Swelling tends to occur in the face, hands and feet.
Preeclampsia is the most common complication that can occur during a pregnancy. It generally develops during the third trimester and affects about 1 in every 20 pregnancies.
Women in their first pregnancy have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia, as do patients with diabetes and mothers carrying twins. Some women have preeclampsia in every pregnancy; experts are not sure why.
If the preeclampsia remains untreated, it can develop to eclampsia, in which the mother can go into convulsions, coma and can even die. Complications from preeclampsia are extremely rare if the mother attends her pre-natal appointments.