Early Detection: Gestational Diabetes & Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia: Who's at Risk?

You may be more susceptible to preeclampsia if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • This is your first pregnancy.
  • You have a family history of preeclampsia.
  • You had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy (about 20 percent of women who developed preeclampsia after the 37th week of pregnancy, and up to 65 percent of those who developed it before the 29th week, develop it again).
  • You have a personal history of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or certain thrombophilias (blood-clotting disorders).
  • You are carrying multiples (twins or more).
  • You are younger than 20 years, or over 35 years.
  • You are African-American.
  • You are overweight.

The Mystery of Preeclampsia

Unfortunately, the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, and there is no way to prevent it. However, a recent British study suggests that taking vitamins C and E throughout the second half of pregnancy may help. According to the research, high-risk women who took the vitamins reduced their chances of getting preeclampsia by about 75 percent. More studies are under way to see if this treatment is truly effective.

To receive more information on this topic and many others, visit the Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center at the March of Dimes at marchofdimes.com.

Dr. Schwarz, obstetrical consultant to the March of Dimes, is past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is also the Vice Chairman for Clinical Services, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maimonides Medical Center and Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, both in Brooklyn.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2005. Updated 2010

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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