Preeclampsia can cause serious injury or death to both expectant mothers and their unborn babies. With this potentially catastrophic condition, the mother’s blood pressure surges and one or more of her organ systems sustain damage.
Preeclampsia usually develops at or after the 20th week of pregnancy in women who otherwise have normal blood pressure. Because preeclampsia may be disastrous, doctors must work diligently to diagnose and treat it. Physicians may use four types of tests to determine if a pregnant woman is suffering from preeclampsia.
If a mother develops preeclampsia during pregnancy, the unborn baby may not develop properly. Consequently, doctors should use regular ultrasounds to monitor the health of the fetus, including its weight and size. Ultrasounds may also help physicians keep an eye on amniotic fluid levels.
2. Blood tests
To determine if a woman’s kidneys and liver are functioning normally, doctors are likely to order a variety of blood tests. When testing blood for liver and kidney functionality, physicians may also count platelets, which aid in blood clotting.
Proteins in urine are often an early indicator of preeclampsia. With urinalysis, which may return faster results than a blood test, doctors measure proteins inside a pregnant woman’s urine sample. For even more reliable results, physicians may use a special type of urinalysis that compares proteins to creatinine.
4. Fetal nonstress tests
Finally, doctors may monitor fetal heartbeat when the unborn child moves with a fetal nonstress test. This test gives physicians an idea of whether preeclampsia may be negatively affecting the health of the fetus’s circulatory system.
While some of these tests may be invasive, they may also help pregnant women and their doctors make informed decisions about the pregnancy. Ultimately, if a doctor neglects to order necessary tests or misinterprets test results, the lives of the mother and unborn child may be in danger.