Spotting the signs of Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a medical condition that effects up to 6% of pregnant women in the UK, usually during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy or soon after the baby is born. The condition involves a presence of protein in urine and/or high blood pressure.

Tests for pre-eclampsia are carried out at routine antenatal appointments in the form of urine and blood pressure tests. Expectant mothers should also be aware of other symptoms which could indicate pre-eclampsia.

What are the symptoms of Pre-eclampsia?

In more severe cases of Pre-eclampsia, some or all of the following symptoms can develop:

  • Severe and persistent headaches
  • Problems with sight including flashing lights or blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe pain below the ribs
  • Persistent heartburn that does not subside with antacids
  • Increased swelling of the face, hands or feet rapidly
  • Generally feeling very unwell

Treatment of Pre-eclampsia

Unfortunately there is no definitive treatment for pre-eclampsia but there are measures that will reduce the risk of developing eclampsia which is a more serious condition. Eclampsia can involve fits, convulsions and in the most serious of cases, fatality of the mother or baby.

Unfortunately, at Price Slater Gawne, we do see cases involving the missed diagnosis of Pre-eclampsia, in which a high blood pressure or high protein level in the urine are not considered alongside other symptoms (listed above). This can have significant impact upon the expecting mother and the unborn child.

Regarding the missed diagnosis of Pre-eclampsia, Lauren Rhodes commented:

“The symptoms of pre-eclampsia can often be viewed as ‘normal’ symptoms of pregnancy, especially swelling and nausea. If expectant mothers have any concerns they should contact their midwife who should be able to distinguish between normal symptoms and those which warrant further investigation.

There is clear guidance from the NICE antenatal care guidelines that magnesium sulphate should be administered if the mother’s blood pressure or protein in urea reaches a certain level. Whilst this is not a definitive treatment or cure, it does lower the risk of eclampsia by 58%. Unfortunately we see cases where results have not been acted upon and the mother has gone on to develop eclampsia, putting their health and the babies health at risk.

Pre-eclampsia usually improves after the baby is born, but not always and it is important that mothers continue to be alert to any symptoms and report them to their midwife or health visitor. Mothers may require regular blood checks or medication to lower blood pressure for several weeks”.

If you have been affected by the missed diagnosis of Pre-eclampsia or another pregnancy or birth related condition, our specialist Medical Negligence solicitors are here to help. We understand how difficult a time this is and have experience working with other families who have been in this position. If you would like to speak to a member of the team, please contact 0161 615 5554 or email