Eclampsia, first described by Hippocrates 2,400 years ago, is the medical name for seizures during pregnancy. Preeclampsia, a more common related disorder, is characterized by a large rise in blood pressure and failing kidneys. Every year in the U.S., up to 8 percent, or 300,000, of pregnant or postpartum women develop preeclampsia, eclampsia, or a related condition such as HELLP syndrome. Roughly 300 women die, and another 75,000 women experience “near misses”—severe complications and injury such as organ failure, massive blood loss, permanent disability, and premature birth or death of their babies. Usually, the disease resolves with the birth of the baby and placenta. But, it can occur postpartum—indeed, most maternal deaths occur after delivery.
A bit more on Preeclampsia, which—maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, who knows, spoiler alerts, close your eyes if you haven’t seen last night’s show, etc.—played a significant role on last night’s Downton Abbey.
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