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Toxemia, also known as preeclampsia, is one of the most serious conditions of pregnancy, and it affects 5-10% of pregnant women. The symptoms usually begin in the second trimester, and it is generally recognized that the only cure is the delivery of the baby. Basically, when toxemia occurs, the mother's body has become toxic and is dangerous for both the mother and child.

RISK FACTORS FOR TOXEMIA IN PREGNANCY

Blood clotting disorders
Previous toxemia
High blood pressure
Family history of toxemia
Diabetes
Under age 20 or over age 40
Pregnant with 1st baby or multiples

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of toxemia can include headaches, dizziness, and abdominal pain. More indicative symptoms are: high blood pressure, a sudden swelling of the face and hands, protein in the urine, a sudden weight gain of more than two pounds per week.

DANGERS

Toxemia damages the mother's kidneys, brain, eyes, liver, and can weaken the heart. It causes the arteries to constrict which restricts the blood flow to the placenta. A baby born to a mother with toxemia is at risk for low birth weight, premature birth, or being stillborn. If toxemia is not treated it will develop into eclampsia, seizures which can be fatal to the mother and baby.

TREATMENT

Once a woman is diagnosed with toxemia the goal is to deliver the baby as soon and as safely as possible. Generally, either a cesarean section is performed, or labor is induced. If the baby cannot be safely delivered immediately, medication may be used to lower blood pressure and bedrest is usually prescribed.

PREVENTION

While the only cure for toxemia is delivery, there are a few preventative measures an expectant mother can take to reduce her risk for toxemia. She should drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and increase her protein intake. She should also lie on her left side as much as possible for better blood circulation to the baby. Vitamins C and E may also reduce the risk of getting toxemia. It has also been suggested that natural progesterone may be helpful in relieving the symptoms of toxemia.