Toxemia is a generic term that indicates the presence of toxins in the blood. It is most commonly used to signify the presence of proteins in the urine during pregnancy and is referred to as pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia or toxemia is characterized by high blood pressure (usually abrupt) and presence of protein in the urine (albuminuria). Typically, pre-eclampsia occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy (third trimester). It is a rapidly progressive condition and affects about five to eight percent of all pregnancies. The most common symptoms are:

  • Swelling in feet and hands
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Persistent headaches
  • Vision problems

Pre-eclampsia is most frequent in the first pregnancy; however the following may increase the risk of developing the condition.

  • Pregnant women carrying multiple babies
  • History of diabetes, hypertension or kidney disorders
  • History of pre-eclampsia with mothers or sisters

The only way to treat pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. Your doctor may recommend inducing labor to deliver the baby considering how close you are to your due date. If the baby is developed enough (usually 37 weeks or later), it is advised to induce labor to deliver the baby to prevent pre-eclampsia from getting worse. However, if the baby is not fully developed or you have mild symptoms then it is recommended to take bed rest, reduce salt intake, drink plenty of water and visit your doctor for regular checkups.

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