Listen up, moms-to-be. Mother’s Day just passed but there’s something else going on in May—Preeclampsia Awareness Month!
In 36 cities, all over the U.S., women are participating in The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia to raise awareness and funding for not only a cure, but also a cause! Any expectant mom can be affected and even good health and healthy habits aren’t a guarantee of prevention. Awareness can lead to timely diagnosis and more diligent health care.
Preeclampsia is a life-threatening disorder of pregnancy that affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Yet preeclampsia is not rare. “Preeclampsia affects one in 12 pregnant women, and the incidence of this puzzling disorder is on the rise,” says Eleni Tsigas, Executive Director of the Preeclampsia Foundation. “With our Promise Walks, along with several other educational and awareness-building events throughout the month, we will reach many thousands of people with life-saving information. Expectant mothers who know what to be aware of play a vital role in recognizing preeclampsia symptoms, thus improving time to diagnosis and medical attention.”
Below are some key facts about why it’s important to participate:
1. Walk to raise awareness
- Preeclampsia is a life-threatening disorder of pregnancy and postpartum period that affects both the mother and the unborn baby.
- All pregnancies are at risk as preeclampsia affects up to 1 in 12 women who are pregnant, nearly 300,000 each year.
- Worldwide, by conservative estimates, nearly 76,000 mothers and half a million babies die each year because of preeclampsia.
2. Know the Symptoms. Trust yourself.
- Less than one half of well-educated women are informed of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and those who are informed often don’t understand.
- The disease can accelerate quickly to a life-threatening situation; swelling, sudden weight gain, unrelenting headaches, extreme shortness of breath, pain in the upper abdomen and changes in vision are important symptoms.
- Pregnant women should contact their medical care provider immediately if they have any concerning symptoms.
3. Walk to find a cause and a cure.
- No one knows yet what causes preeclampsia and there are no definite ways to prevent it and as of now there is no treatment.
- No early detection or screening exam is currently available in the U.S. for preeclampsia.
- In the United States, the rates of preeclampsia, maternal deaths and premature births are all rising.
- Preeclampsia is the leading known cause of premature births.
- We need a better way to track preeclampsia research across all the NIH institutes.
- American Heart Association guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease in Women now list a history of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension as an increased risk factor for a woman to develop heart problems (cardiovascular disease, stroke or other conditions) five to 15 years after pregnancy.
- Preeclampsia research is drastically under-funded and all pregnancies are at risk; research to find the cause and effective interventions is critically needed, as well as to understand more about the effects of preeclampsia on pregnancy and the women and babies’ long-term health.
- Less than .05% of the National Institutes Health budget is allocated to this growing problem. (17 million dollars out of 31.2 billion dollar annual budget and the $17M included stimulus money!)