What Happens When You Have Toxemia?

Sometimes called preeclampsia, toxemia occurs in approximately 10 percent of all pregnancies in the United States, reports the Preeclampsia Foundation. This life-threatening condition has a number of effects upon mothers and babies.

  1. Features

    • Toxemia occurs when a pregnant woman's blood pressure becomes elevated and protein appears in her urine. The condition develops after the 20th week of pregnancy, reports the Mayo Clinic.


    • Doctors do not understand what happens in a woman's body to cause toxemia, explains the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Possible causes include autoimmune disorders, blood vessels problems, a poor diet, or a genetic disorder.


    • The most common symptoms of toxemia are swelling of a woman's extremities or face and rapid weight gain, sometimes in as little as one or two days. Severe toxemia can cause headaches, abdominal pain, agitation, decreased urination and nausea or vomiting.


    • The only way to treat toxemia in a pregnant woman is by delivering her baby, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and doctors might induce labor or perform a cesarean section. Because of this, infants might be born prematurely and suffer from problems like underdeveloped lungs or permanent disabilities like blindness, deafness or cerebral palsy, reports the Preeclampsia Foundation.


    • In rare cases, the elevated blood pressure levels present in toxemia can result in death. Approximately 18 percent of all maternal deaths during pregnancy or delivery in the United States occur due to toxemia, and each year the condition claims 50,000 to 76,000 lives around the world, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.

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