Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia

The second greatest causes of maternal death, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (PE-E) are account for nearly 10% of maternal deaths in Africa and Asia and 25% of maternal deaths in Latin America. Persistent hypertension characterizes these conditions,[i] which are difficult to prevent or predict.[ii]

Criteria for Diagnosis of Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia



Onset of a new episode of hypertension during pregnancy, characterized by:

  • Persistent hypertension (diastolic blood pressure >/ 90 mm HG) and
  • Substantial proteinuria (>.3g/24hrs).



  • Generalized seizures, typically in addition to pre-eclampsia criteria

Timely and effective evidence-based care can prevent most PE-E deaths. Blood pressure monitoring for pregnant women alerts health providers at ANC to potential risks. In addition, families can watch for danger signs such as headache, blurry vision, abdominal pain, swelling (edema), and convulsions, and seek help if needed. Interventions using calcium[i] and magnesium sulfate[ii] have been documented; clinical practice recommendations can be found in MCHIP’s PE-E Briefer. NGOs that work to increase awareness of PE-E, improve the quality of care at ANC services, and increase ANC coverage contribute to reducing the risk of maternal mortality as a result of these conditions. In addition, advocacy is needed to update national policies to include evidence-based practices.[i] More information can be found in MCHIP’s PE-E tool kit.

[i] MCHIP, 2013. Saving mothers’ lives with calcium: an innovative program in Nepal to prevent pre-eclampsia.

[ii] Smith, J., et al. An integrative review of the side effects related to the use of magnesium sulfate for pre-eclampsia and eclampsia management. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013;13:34


[i] MCHIP, 2012. WHO recommendations for prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.

[ii] MCHIP, 2011. Technical Brief, Pre-eclampsia/Eclampsia: Prevention, Detection and Management.