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Major Websites Publish Misleading Information About Preeclampsia

August 20th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Monday, August 20, 2018.

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana. When it comes to pregnancy, more women than ever are seeking advice from the internet. Yet, as the internet becomes a source of information, it also poses the real risk of misinformation. ProPublica recently reported that many major websites, including Harvard Health, have published misleading information about Preeclampsia, a potentially deadly condition.

Preeclampsia, according to ProPublica, is one of the leading causes of death during pregnancy and childbirth. Harvard Health has written that preeclampsia “occurs only during pregnancy” yet, when ProPublica sent screen shots of the site to an expert, the expert noted that women can develop postpartum preeclampsia. The risk doesn’t end once a woman delivers her baby, as some websites seem to suggest. If women get this information and think that the danger has passed once they have delivered, this could lead to potentially deadly misinformation. ProPublica notes that the risks of postpartum preeclampsia can mimic the pains following a healthy delivery. These symptoms include swelling, gastric issues, and headaches. Women are more at risk of misdiagnosing themselves in the postpartum period. Many women may lose access to health care in the days and weeks after they deliver, due to gaps in Medicaid for pregnant mothers. Many lose coverage 60 days after their baby is born. If they develop symptoms, they may look up their symptoms online before going to a doctor.

Unfortunately, the language online seems to mirror other concerns that reporters have raised regarding how women’s health is considered during pregnancy and delivery. Doctors and hospitals may place a great emphasis on the unborn fetus while the mother’s health may fall to the wayside.

The good news is that after ProPublica’s report, many websites updated their language to include relevant facts. For example, that black women face higher risks of the condition and that preeclampsia isn’t “cured” once a woman delivers her baby.

Yet, not all websites have been updated. MedlinePlus, which is approved by the government and published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, notes that protein should be detected in the urine for a diagnosis to be made. Yet, updated research suggests that doctors should look at a woman’s whole suite of symptoms, including rising blood pressure. MedlinePlus says it will update its information during its next regular update. This means the information might not be updated for years.

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, there are many myths about the condition that continue to perpetuate. These myths include the idea that only overweight women develop the condition, the myth that the condition is rare, that bedrest and delivery is the only cure, and that the condition only develops right before delivery or during delivery (pregnant women can develop the condition as early as 20 weeks into their pregnancies and after childbirth).

If you believe a doctor misdiagnosed your preeclampsia or if you developed the condition after delivery and believe that your treatment or lack of treatment led to injury, you may have certain rights under the law. The The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are Baton Rouge, Louisiana medical malpractice lawyers who work closely with women who have suffered adverse effects after developing preeclampsia and with women whose children have suffered birth injuries as a result of medical malpractice. Protect your rights and seek justice for your child. Visit us at today to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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