PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A medical trend among pregnant women is troubling - high blood pressure is on the rise and it can lead to problems with the health of the mother and baby.
To protect your health and the baby's health, it starts with your blood pressure levels before pregnancy and vigilance to watch it during the pregnancy.
It's also not something to take for granted.
There are elevated levels a woman brings into pregnancy or develops early on.
"We have gestational hypertension," explained Dr. Rosin Goje of the Cleveland Clinic. "This is hypertension after 20 weeks of pregnancy."
The Centers for Disease Control says that high blood pressure occurs in one out of every 12-17 pregnancies and Dr. Goje said it's a condition that needs to be recognized as soon as possible.
"This can now continue from gestational hypertension to become what we call 'preeclampsia," Dr. Goje said.
The higher blood pressure can impact the mother's heart, and kidneys, cause pre-term birth, can cause the placenta to separate from the wall of the uterus, and put the baby at risk.
Untreated, it can even be fatal.
"Exercise, healthy diet, staying active, trying to be very intentional with your diet," Dr. Goje said as an explanation about what mothers-to-be can do to avoid this issue.
Now, what does that phrase mean, "being intentional with your diet?"
"You're not fasting or starving, you're taking more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water," said Dr. Goje.
Dr. Goje also said to try to work on reducing stress, as it has been known to complicate a lot of maternal morbidities.
Black women are at a higher risk for high blood pressure and the complications that come with it.
It can be handled with medication, especially if the woman was taking them before pregnancy. Other than that, your doctor will make the determination but staying active and eating healthy are the primary remedies.
John Shumway joined KDKA in October 1988 as a General Assignment Reporter. During his years at KDKA, he has anchored the morning and weekend news and is currently a featured General Assignment Reporter on the station's 4, 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.