Need to know
• Pre-eclampsia affects around 5pc of pregnancies in Ireland.
• It can occur in the second trimester, as early as the 20th week but is most common in the third term.
• Its tell-tale signs are severe headaches, sudden weight gain, dizziness and stomach ache.
• The cause is not fully known although the condition is thought to be due to abnormalities of blood flow through the placenta that are fed back to the mother's body, which in turn responds by raising her blood pressure.
• Prevalence is more common in first pregnancies, among older women and if the mother already has diabetes or kidney disease.
• Treatment involves keeping blood pressure stable through the use of anti-hypersensitive drugs and, in some cases, magnesium sulphate to prevent seizures.
• According to research published by Trinity College Dublin, mothers who develop pre-eclampsia have been shown to have higher levels of their baby's DNA in their blood.