Pre-eclampsia: What you need to know

If you or someone you know is suffering from pre-eclampsia, or you are worried about pre-eclampsia, you have come to the right place.

Action on Pre-eclampsia provides information about pre-eclampsia to members of the public and support to those affected by pre-eclampsia. You can click on the navigation alongside to view commonly asked questions and answers, and to download our leaflets and general information sheets.

If you are pregnant and worried or feel unwell please contact your GP or midwife immediately.

What is pre-eclampsia?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is the most common medical problem that is encountered in pregnancy. In general gestational hypertension complicates 10% of first time pregnancies.

Mild pre-eclampsia affects up to 10% of first time pregnancies with severe pre-eclampsia affecting about 1-2 in 100 severe pregnancies.

It’s the most common of the serious complications of pregnancy and is caused by a defect in the placenta, which joins the mother and baby and supplies the baby with nutrients and oxygen from the mother’s blood. While we do not know yet exactly what is the root cause of the disease, medical science is expanding our knowledge every day. By definition, pre-eclampsia occurs after 20 weeks (but in very rare cases can occur earlier) and the majority of cases occur in the third trimester.

In its early stages pre-eclampsia is symptom-less and is only detectable by regular antenatal checks on the mother’s blood pressure and urine. It’s known as a multi-system disorder which means it can affect different parts of your body such as your liver, your kidneys, your cardiovascular system or your clotting systems.