QUESTION: I am a 26-year-old female. My daughter was delivered by emergency C-section at eight months because of toxemia. My loss of eyesight (since restored) prompted immediate delivery. What causes this? I am confused, and wonder if it is linked to poor prenatal care. Or is it nothing more than an "allergy to pregnancy," my doctor's definition? I would like another baby, but am afraid of developing this again. Please explain this situation. - L.E.P.
ANSWER: Toxemia of pregnancy is sharp blood pressure rise with fluid retention and loss of protein in the urine. Figures indicate as many as 7 percent of pregnant women will have this. However, not all of those women will have it to the extent you did, requiring emergency delivery. Pregnant women should be aware of the problem, but not add it to their worry list.You can't lay toxemia of pregnancy to the quality of prenatal care. You might stretch things a bit and call it an allergy to pregnancy. What really is happening is artery spasm from the outpouring of hormones produced in pregnancy. That is the background for such symptoms as your eyesight disturbance.
Toxemia of pregnancy is serious business. No doubt about that. However, given the relative frequency of it, be assured that doctors are alert to toxemia and have the wherewithal to treat it effectively. When necessary, delivery brings prompt relief from the symptoms.
Will it happen again? Probably not. It happens most often in first pregnancies. But no one can predict that with certainty. In any event, forewarned by your background, your doctors will be even more aware of the possibility and your need for prenatal vigilance.
Some researchers are experimenting with aspirin as a preventive to this pregnancy complication, also referred to as pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. Repeat: This is experimental work only.
QUESTION: I have noticed that when any of my children have a cold, they usually run fevers. Yet, when I have a cold, I seem normal. Is this the usual thing? - Mrs. B.A.
ANSWER: You're normal. It is unusual, in fact, for an adult to have a fever with the common cold. If that happens, it is likely to be something else going on, not just the viral infection.
Here are some related thoughts in response to questions I get now and then on this general subject. A mild fever in a child, say 102, is not a serious thing. It is probably only a sign that the body's defenses are in action. Of course, anyone under 18 should not be given aspirin to bring down a fever. That's because of the association with Reye's syndrome.
Drugs like acetaminophen can be used for fever reduction. But keep in mind that many over-the-counter nasal decongestants and the like may also contain acetaminophen. It's something to be aware of to avoid giving the child an excess by accumulation.