Causes of Preeclampsia
Despite extensive research, scientists are still trying to learn more about preeclampsia and its causes. However, they have identified certain risk factors that increase a woman's chances of developing it. These factors include being obese prior to pregnancy, having chronic hypertension, and being pregnant with more than one baby.
At this point, despite extensive research, researchers do not know the cause or causes of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is also known as:
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Toxemia of pregnancy
- Acute hypertensive disease of pregnancy.
They do know, however, that the result of preeclampsia is a narrowing of blood vessels (called arteriolar constriction or vasospasm). This narrowing of blood vessels affects how much blood can get to different parts of the body. Research has shown that in women with preeclampsia, blood flow to the kidneys, brain, liver, retina, and placenta are decreased.
Preeclampsia is not technically caused by the factors listed below. However, these risk factors will increase a woman's chances of developing preeclampsia. They include:
- Being obese prior to pregnancy
- Being pregnant under the age of 20 or over the age of 40
- Being pregnant with more than one baby
- Having chronic hypertension (high blood pressure before becoming pregnant)
- Having diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus (SLE), or scleroderma
- Having developed high blood pressure or preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy (especially if these conditions occurred early in the pregnancy).