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Pre-eclampsia (US: preeclampsia) is a medical condition where hypertension arises in pregnancy (pregnancy-induced hypertension) in association with significant amounts of protein in the urine. Because pre-eclampsia refers to a set of symptoms rather than any causative factor, it is established that there are many different causes for the syndrome. It also appears likely that there is a substance or substances from the placenta that may cause endothelial dysfunction in the maternal blood vessels of susceptible women. While blood pressure elevation is the most visible sign of the disease, it involves generalized damage to the maternal endothelium and kidneys and liver, with the release of vasopressive factors only secondary to the original damage.
Pre-eclampsia may develop from 20 weeks gestation (it is considered early onset before 32 weeks, which is associated with increased morbidity) and its progress differs among patients; most cases are diagnosed pre-term. Apart from Caesarean section, or induction of labour, and therefore delivery of the placenta, there is no known cure. It may also occur up to six weeks post-partum. It is the most common of the dangerous pregnancy complications; it may affect both the mother and the foetus.