Medical Definition of Toxemia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Toxemia: A condition in pregnancy, also known as pre-eclampsia (or preeclampsia) characterized by abrupt hypertension (a sharp rise in blood pressure), albuminuria (leakage of large amounts of the protein albumin into the urine) and edema (swelling) of the hands, feet, and face. Pre-eclampsia is the most common complication of pregnancy. It affects about 5% of pregnancies. It occurs in the third trimester (the last third) of pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia occurs most frequently in first pregnancies. It is more common in women who have diabetes or who are carrying twins. Some women seem to have a strong tendency to develop the disease and suffer from pre-eclampsia with every pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is more common in daughters of women who have been affected; in many cases the disease tends to run in families.

Pre-eclampsia can be a sign of serious problems. It may, for example, indicate that the placenta is detaching from the uterus. In some cases, untreated pre-eclampsia can progress to eclampsia, a life-threatening situation for both mother and fetus characterized by coma and seizures.

Treatment is by bed rest and sometimes medication. If that treatment is ineffective, the induction of labor and delivery or a C-section may have to be considered. Pre-eclampsia usually resolves a short time after the baby is born.

CONTINUE SCROLLING OR CLICK HERE FOR RELATED ARTICLE
Last Editorial Review: 1/26/2017

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors