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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Trusted Health Sites Spread Myths About a Deadly Pregnancy Complication

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Nina Martin reports in ProPublica:

Preeclampsia, a dangerous form of hypertension that can develop during pregnancy or in the days and weeks after childbirth, is one of the most common causes of maternal death and severe complications in the U.S. The large majority of deaths occur after delivery, often from strokes.

But you’d never know it from the incomplete, imprecise, outdated and sometimes misleading information published by some of the most trusted consumer health sites in the country.

Instead, you might come away with the impression that, as Harvard Health Publishing says, preeclampsia “occurs only during pregnancy.”

From an article on the government-affiliated site MedlinePlus, you might conclude that the “cure” for preeclampsia is delivering the baby. Until this weekend, the Mayo Clinic’s site said the same thing. In reality, said Eleni Tsigas, executive director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, even after delivery, “it can still take a while for the mother to get better, and some mothers get worse before they get better.” If treatment is delayed because people believe the danger is in the past, mothers can die.

Preeclampsia has been back in the news, thanks to Beyoncé’s Vogueinterview discussing her recent experience with the condition. That’s led to a spike in Google searches of symptoms, preventive measures and treatments. Many of those readers are going to health websites that regularly make Top 10 lists for trustworthiness, and journalists are linkingto the same highly regarded sites in their stories. Yet the information on some of those sites — especially about the risks of preeclampsia in the postpartum period — has been “bad or misleading,” Tsigas said, something she called “really disturbing.”

“It can mean the difference between life and death,” she added.

Preeclampsia affects 3 to 5 percent of expectant and new mothers in the U.S., up to 200,000 women a year, and it is responsible for 15 percent of premature births. No one knows what causes it, although the placenta is believed to play a role. As in Beyoncé’s case, the risk factors include having twins, being black and being over 35. But it can strike any woman, usually after the 20th week of pregnancy, and it can quickly become a crisis. Around the world, preeclampsia kills about five women every hour. At least 60 percent of preeclampsia deaths are preventable, and patient education is an important part of the solution, experts say.

In affluent countries, the condition is highly treatable. Yet in the U.S., preeclampsia accounts for 7.4 percent of maternal deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killing more than 50 mothers a year — one reason the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world. One of those women was Lauren Bloomstein, a neonatal intensive care nurse in New Jersey, whose 2011 death some 20 hours after giving birth was chronicled by ProPublica and NPR as part of our Lost Mothers project.

The greatest risk is to black mothers, who are more likely to enter pregnancy with chronic high blood pressure and to develop preeclampsia. They are more than twice as likely to die from the condition than white women, the CDC Foundation reported this year. Preeclampsia-related complications are the third-leading cause of maternal deaths among African-American women. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2018 at 1:10 pm

One Response

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  1. It is not a coincidence that preeclampsia and cardiovascular problems go hand in hand. Preeclampsia can be prevented. Here is how:

    Elena Mazzella, RN BSN

    21 October 2018 at 3:47 am

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