Preeclampsia and IUGR in Prior Pregnancy: Can I Prevent This Next Time?

I gave birth five months ago --10 weeks early -- and I suspect that I am pregnant again. During my last pregnancy, I had severe preeclampsia and my baby had IUGR. Can the complications of my first pregnancy be prevented in my second?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

I wonder if you may have a predisposition to hypertension -- perhaps in your family history -- or perhaps an infection that may have triggered preterm labor or premature rupture of the membranes.

Make sure you get checked for chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas and beta strep, all of which have been associated with preterm labor. Eat a diet rich in B vitamins, folate, iron and magnesium. Of course, smoking and alcohol intake should cease.

About one third of all pregnancies will be affected by repeat episodes -- although sometimes not as severe -- of preeclampsia. We do not yet know the cause of this condition, as we do not know the cause of preterm labor, so it is difficult to give you a recipe for avoiding both conditions this time.

We do, however, know of conditions that are associated with with preterm labor:

-- poverty
-- young or old maternal age
-- anemia
-- poor diet
-- lack of social support
-- strenuous physical labor
-- premature rupture of membranes
-- infection
-- malformations of the embryo or fetus
-- previous preterm labor, over-distention of the uterus as in an excess of fluid or multiple gestation
-- incompetent cervix, abnormal uterine structure
-- placental separation or low-lying placenta
-- serious maternal disease.

The causes of preeclampsia also remain enigmatic, but again, it is associated with:

-- poverty
-- very young or old first-time mothers
-- existing high blood pressure
-- inadequate dietary nutrients
-- previous history of pre-eclampsia
-- multiple gestation

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