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May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. The condition affects at least 5-8% of pregnancies.

Preeclampsia typically can occur any time after the 20th week of pregnancy and is marked by:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Changes in vision – blurred, seeing spots
  • Nausea after mid-pregnancy
  • Swelling in hands and face
  • Weight gain of more than 5 pounds in a week
  • Difficulty breathing, gasping, or panting

To monitor their pregnancy for preeclampsia and reduce risk, women should:

  • Attend all prenatal appointments, which may be by phone or videoconference
  • Talk to your doctor about your particular risk for preeclampsia and what you can do to minimize it
  • Monitor your blood pressure and weight regularly, and contact your doctor immediately if either becomes unexpectedly high
  • Know your family history of pregnancy complications, high blood pressure, and heart disease
  • Eat right, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke