Medical Monday: Preeclampsia leads to premature birth

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A premature baby can spend days or even months in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU. A medical condition called preeclampsia can lead to premature birth. It puts both the mom and baby at risk.

Photo courtesy: MGN

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center NICU Medical Director Dr. Antonio Pena says preeclampsia is a serious condition.

"Usually they have hypertension. They have proteinurea, which means they have protein in the urine, and clearly that's a bad condition. The treatment for it other than medical treatment is ultimately delivery of the baby, even if the baby is delivered prematurely," explained Dr. Pena.

Sarah and Bryan Oglesby were overjoyed about expecting their first child. Everything was progressing fine until Sarah's blood pressure started elevating.

"My doctor came in and told me that we had preeclampsia and it was severe. She honestly thought that we were going to have to have the baby right then," said Sarah as she choked back tears.

Doctors were able to control Sarah's blood pressure for a while, but then there was no other option but to deliver her little baby girl at 27 weeks and 4 days into the pregnancy.

Leia Louise weighed only one pound and 16 ounces when she was delivered via an emergency c-section. She spent 70 days in the NICU at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center.

Bryan said, "It's hard. You have to kind of remove yourself from time to time to just take a breath and gather yourself so you can go back in there and be the strong one for them."

Leia was released from the NICU a little over a week ago. She still needs oxygen, but she's growing and getting stronger each day. She's now about two and a half months old.

Doctors say there's nothing that can be done to prevent preeclampsia.