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Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment and Wrongful Death

For most women, pregnancy is an exciting time, filled with planning, nesting and dreaming about the new life being brought into the world. But it is also a time for great caution, especially with pregnancy related illness increases the risk of birth related injuries for mother and baby.

Preeclampsia and HELLP
Preeclampia is a medical condition that occurs when a woman develops high blood pressure during pregnancy. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, thousands of women and babies are sickened by the illness each year. These cases can also be fatal for the mother, the baby or both. The syndrome is particularly dangerous because many of the symptoms mirror conditions that are common in most healthy pregnancies. The Preeclampsia Foundation lists the following symptoms:

Swollen feet
Rapid weight gain
Lower back pain
Edema Changes in vision
Hypertension
Sudden weight gain

Many of these symptoms are complaints that most pregnant women share and experiencing them would not necessarily alert a woman to potential complications. The key to detection lies in regular obstetrician appointments, where blood pressure is measured and protein levels are monitored. Adequate prenatal care should provide early detection of preeclampsia.

About 15% of preeclampsia cases develop into an even more serious condition called Hemplysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Low Platelets Count Syndrome (HELLP). The syndrome generally develops at about 37 weeks into the pregnancy. The National Institute of Health lists several possible symptoms of HELLP:

Headaches
Blurry vision
Seizures
Fluid retention
Bleeding that will not stop easily
Nausea and vomiting
Pain in the upper right section of the abdomen

To diagnose, physicians may conduct a CT scan to identify any bleeding in the mother’s liver. A fetal non-stress test and ultrasound may also be done to diagnose any dangers to the fetus.

Treatments
Numerous treatments are available for a diagnosis of preeclampsia or HELLP. High blood pressure medication may be prescribed. Dietary restrictions are also useful in controlling the symptoms and complications. In severe cases, bed rest is directed for the mother until birth, Corticosteroid may also be administered to prepare the fetus for a possible premature delivery, which may be a necessary option. The earlier the diagnosis, the more time and opportunity there is for the physician to implement a treatment plan that prevents injury and death.

Effects of Missed Diagnosis
When diagnosis of preeclampsia and HELLP is missed, the results can be devastating to mother and child. Premature birthing can cause complications to the baby’s health and may result in significant birth injuries. The mother may experience excessive bleeding during the birthing process. Kidney failure is also possible, along with fluid build up inside of the lungs. Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall is also common, which causes fetal distress in about half of all cases, according to the National Institute of Health.

If you or your baby experienced birth injuries from preclampsia or HELLP, and you believe the doctor or hospital may be responsible, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today.

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