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Your doctor is perhaps your most valuable ally in having a healthy pregnancy. Creating open lines of communication about your concerns is important, and the best way to do that is to keep yourself informed. Got questions about preeclampsia? Know what’s worth worrying about.
Know what it is
Preeclampsia is a medical condition that causes high blood pressure, poor kidney function, and can lead to seizures and preterm birth. Preeclampsia occurs in about 5-7% of pregnancies, while early-onset preeclampsia, the earlier occurring and more severe form of the disease, occurs in approximately 0.5% of all pregnancies.
Your doctor will likely test your blood pressure and your urine starting at 20 weeks to try and detect preeclampsia. Most physicians don’t yet test for early-onset preeclampsia as the methods for detecting it are rather new. The terminology of “early” and “late” onset preeclampsia is new as well, and has mostly replaced the old concept of “mild” versus “severe” that your doctor may be more familiar with.
Assess your risk
Deciding whether to ask your doctor to test for early onset preeclampsia, if you aren’t yet showing symptoms, will have a lot to do with your potential risk. If any of the following common risk factors apply to you, you might want to consider speaking to your doctor about screening:
- Suffering from high blood pressure before becoming pregnant
- A personal or family history of high blood pressure or preeclampsia
- Having multiples
- Being younger than 20 or older than 40
- Certain health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
You can read more about the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia in our article here. The most common symptoms are an increase in blood pressure, protein present in urine, swelling, nausea and abdominal cramping. Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will develop preeclampsia, but it may point to the need for first trimester screening to help further evaluate your risk. Always report these symptoms to your doctor.
Know when it’s time to test
The 20-week mark is when your doctor will begin to routinely test for signs and symptoms of general preeclampsia. However, the PreeclampsiaScreen™ | T1 test service can be done between 10 weeks to 13 weeks and 6 days into your pregnancy. Your doctor can request the PreeclampsiaScreen™ | T1 test to be ordered at the same time as similar screening tests, like those for Down syndrome.
If they request additional testing
Depending on your risk factors, or the results of some tests, your doctor may perform additional tests or send you to a specialist. This is routine procedure and is usually done as a means of getting even more accurate results.
It can be intimidating to speak with your physician about taking a test, however, we’re confident your doctor will appreciate you taking such an interest in your health. Tap the button below to learn more about the PreeclampsiaScreen™ | T1 test, what it means for you, and how you can get informed enough to start a real conversation with your doctor about your risk factors for early onset preeclampsia.
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