A case-control study of the risk factors for eclampsia

Dima Shafik Abi-Said, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective. To study the risk factors for eclampsia, a rare but significant complication of pregnancy. Target population. All deliveries at or after the 20th week of gestation that took place between January 1, 1977 and March 1992, and between January 1990 and April 1992 at two hospitals in Houston, Texas, respectively. Study population. Sixty-six confirmed cases of eclampsia, and 2 groups of randomly selected controls: Non-preeclamptic and preeclamptic deliveries matched to cases on hospital and month of delivery on a 1:4 ratio. Exclusions. Women with chronic hypertension, gestational epilepsy, a previous history of epilepsy, and convulsions attributed to encephalitis, meningitis, cerebral tumor, and intracerebral bleeding, and women without a definite diagnosis of preeclampsia/eclampsia. Results. Eclampsia developed in 0.52-0.93/1000 deliveries. Fifty-six percent of seizures occurred in the antepartum period, 2% as early as 20 weeks of gestation and 39% between 37 and 42 weeks. Twenty-nine percent and 15% occurred in the postpartum and late postpartum periods, respectively, 8% as late as one week postpartum. A different set of risk factors was involved in the development of eclampsia in non-preeclamptic women than in the progression from preeclampsia to eclampsia. Factors involved in the development of eclampsia included, in addition to twin pregnancy and family history of pregnancy-induced hypertension, fewer than 3 prenatal care visits, urinary tract infections, primigravidity, obesity, black ethnicity, diabetes mellitus, and age $\le$20 years. Risk factors involved in the progression from preeclampsia to eclampsia included fewer than 3 of prenatal care visits, and age $\le$20 years. Protective factors were magnesium sulfate administration prior to seizure, history of abortions and longer gestational age. Having less than 3 prenatal care visits and being less than or equal to 20 years of age were predictors of eclampsia, whether of its development or progression from preeclampsia. Once preeclampsia is diagnosed, primigravid, diabetic, black, or obese women and those with urinary tract infections did not appear to exhibit any increased risk for the progression to eclampsia. The administration of magnesium sulfate was especially protective, followed by a positive history of abortions, 3 or more prenatal care visits, and longer gestational age. The protective effect of MgSO$\sb4$ was only slightly diminished when cases were restricted to the 65% who had a diagnosis of preeclampsia. The progression from preeclampsia to eclampsia may be largely preventable through adequate prenatal care and presumably the administration of magnesium sulfate. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Public health|Obstetrics|Gynecology

Recommended Citation

Abi-Said, Dima Shafik, "A case-control study of the risk factors for eclampsia" (1993). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9401768.