• Kristina Mulligan

Prematurity Awareness: Preeclampsia

Let’s talk about one of the common causes of premature birth: preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is what I was diagnosed with during my pregnancy, causing Flynn to be born at 28 weeks.

This topic is on my heart today after reading the news about Dr. Chaniece Wallace of Indianapolis, who died on October 22nd, just two days after she and her husband, Anthony, welcomed their daughter, Charlotte. Dr. Wallace gave birth to her daughter at 35 weeks and died of postpartum complications caused by preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs that some of mother’s organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally. Usually this condition occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy or after a baby’s birth. Most women with preeclampsia can be treated, but in more severe cases, like mine, the only way to treat preeclampsia is to deliver the baby, which is why there is such a prevalent link to premature birth. Health problems for women who have preeclampsia include kidney, liver and brain damage, blood clotting issues, eclampsia (a rare and life-threatening condition where a pregnant woman has seizures or falls into a coma after preeclampsia), and stroke.

This condition is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world, affecting 2-8% of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, specifically, it’s the cause of 15% of premature births.

The cause of preeclampsia is unknown, but there are some things that may make some more likely than others to have it, including obesity, diabetes, personal history of high blood pressure, or family history of preeclampsia. It’s important to know the signs, which can include changes in vision, a headache that doesn't go away, vomiting or dizziness, sudden weight gain, and swelling. If you are concerned that you may develop or have developed preeclampsia, please voice your concerns to your physician.

On the GoFundMe page created by Anthony for their daughter, he writes, "Chaniece fought with every piece of strength, courage, and faith she had available. Chaniece was such a warm soul, welcoming to almost everybody. Not only loved by family and friends but individuals she would encounter in the patient population. She had a special way of being empathetic with her patients and making each one of them feel special.”

It’s important that we talk about conditions like preeclampsia, for moms everywhere, for moms like me, and especially for moms like Dr. Chaniece Wallace.

Originally posted on my social media for Prematurity Awareness Month.

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