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Preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that can occur after the 20th week of pregnancy, causes sudden high blood pressure that can be fatal to mother and baby if left untreated 123. Even though the only true cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby, the risk of acquiring it in pregnancy can be lowered and controlled by maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding certain foods 123.
- a high blood pressure
- excess amounts of protein in the urine
- vision changes
- painful headaches
- pain in the upper abdominal area
The exact cause for preeclampsia is still not fully known 123. However, certain medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can restrict the amount of blood that flows to the placenta. These blood flow alterations can cause high amounts of placental proteins to be released into the blood stream that can result in preeclampsia 123. Risk factors include obesity, gestational diabetes and a family history of preeclampsia 123.
Prevention with Diet
According to the Babycenter website eating a calcium rich diet may be able to help reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy 123. Good sources of calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli and foods fortified with calcium such as:
- fruit juice
- whole grains
- egg yolks
- citrus fruits
The MedlinePlus website warns that certain foods and beverages should not be included in a diet during pregnancy, especially if there is a history of preeclampsia in the family 123. Foods and drinks that are processed, contain refined sugars, caffeine or alcohol may contribute to preeclampsia 123. In addition, having a diet insufficient in vitamin D may increase the chances of preeclampsia, although additional studies are needed before this can be completely confirmed 123.
Maintaining an unhealthy diet and carrying excess weight can significantly increase the risks of developing preeclampsia 123. In fact, the Babycenter website reports that obesity triples the chances of preeclampsia 123. Unfortunately, dieting is not recommended during pregnancy. Instead, it is best for a pregnant woman to concentrate on healthy foods that will limit her weight gain while still providing nutrition to her unborn baby.
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