Every year, May 22 is observed as “World Pre-eclampsia Day”. First held in the year 2017, the month-long campaign aims to generate widespread awareness about Pre-eclampsia – a serious, life-threatening complication of pregnancy. Regarded as the most common pregnancy complication, the condition is characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems (particularly the liver and kidneys). It usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal. But, in some rare cases it occurs earlier, or after delivery. There is no one single cause of pre-eclampsia but can occur due to genetic factors, blood vessel problems and autoimmune disorders. Several potential factors can increase the risk of this condition which includes – first time pregnancy, having a history of high blood pressure/diabetes/kidney disorder, obesity and age above 35 years. If left untreated, the condition can develop to eclampsia – a more fatal complication for both the mother and the baby. Nothing can definitively prevent this condition. However, early and consistent prenatal care can help your physicians diagnose pre-eclampsia sooner, thereby avoiding serious complications. Having a proper diagnosis will allow physicians to correctly monitor pregnant women until their delivery date. Obstetric gynecologists or other specialists treating pre-eclampsia patients can depend on the services of a reliable and established medical billing and coding company for correct clinical documentation of this condition.

Reports suggest that pre-eclampsia affects 8-10% of pregnancies and is a leading cause of maternal and infant death with 76,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 infant deaths each year worldwide (2019 statistics). The 2020 campaign is a worldwide initiative to raise awareness about pre-eclampsia and its global impact on the lives of mothers, babies and families. It aims to highlight the common occurrence and the devastating impact of pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDPs). As part of the campaign, maternal health organizations around the world join hands to publicize the event. Partners in this global effort include the Pre-eclampsia Foundation, Ending Eclampsia/USAID, the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy and PRECISE/PRE-EMPT.

Initially, pre-eclampsia may develop without any specific symptoms. As the condition progresses slowly, high blood pressure and protein in the urine (proteinuria) may suddenly develop. A woman (in majority of the cases) will not be aware about these two symptoms and will only find out when a physician observes her during an antenatal visit. As the condition progresses, the woman may experience other additional symptoms like – fluid retention (edema), with swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, and face, headaches, nausea and vomiting, upper abdominal pain, blurred vision, impaired liver function, and shortness of breath (caused by fluid in the lungs).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted that the condition has a highly disproportionate impact on low-to-middle income countries, where over 99% of Pre-eclampsia-related deaths occur. It is estimated that 16 percent of maternal deaths in low-to-middle income countries result from pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. In fact, this is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States. The one – day campaign aims to highlight the risk factors and other long-term complications associated with this disorder on a global level.

For a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia to be performed, pregnant women must have high blood pressure and must test positive for any one of the complications like – proteinuria, a low platelet count, impaired liver function, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), signs of kidney problems and new onset of headaches or visual disturbances. In addition, physicians may also recommend diagnostic exams like – blood tests, urine analysis, fetal ultrasound and non stress test or biophysical profile. Pre-eclampsia cannot be fully cured until the baby is delivered. Pregnant women may be at increased risk of seizures, stroke, placenta abruption and severe bleeding until the blood pressure lowers. Women diagnosed with this condition are advised to attend prenatal sessions frequently. Medications like – antihypertensives, anticonvulsants and corticosteroids are recommended. On the other hand, if a woman diagnosed with this condition is far from the end of her pregnancy and her symptoms are mild, the physician may recommend complete bed rest as this will help bring down the blood pressure level, which in a way increases the flow of blood to the placenta. Obstetric gynecologists or other specialists treating pregnant women with pre-eclampsia must correctly document the symptoms, screening tests and treatment procedures using the right medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by reputable service providers can help physicians use the right ICD-10 codes for their billing purposes. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing pre-eclampsia include –

  • O14 – Pre-eclampsia
  • O14.0 – Mild to moderate pre-eclampsia
    • O14.00 – Mild to moderate pre-eclampsia, unspecified trimester
    • O14.02 – Mild to moderate pre-eclampsia, second trimester
    • O14.03 – Mild to moderate pre-eclampsia, third trimester
    • O14.04 – Mild to moderate pre-eclampsia, complicating childbirth
    • O14.05 – Mild to moderate pre-eclampsia, complicating the puerperium
  • O14.1 – Severe pre-eclampsia
    • O14.10 – Severe pre-eclampsia, unspecified trimester
    • O14.12 – Severe pre-eclampsia, second trimester
    • O14.13 – Severe pre-eclampsia, third trimester
    • O14.14 – Severe pre-eclampsia, complicating childbirth
    • O14.15 – Severe pre-eclampsia, complicating the puerperium
  • O14.9 – Unspecified pre-eclampsia
    • O14.90 – Unspecified pre-eclampsia, unspecified trimester
    • O14.92 – Unspecified pre-eclampsia, second trimester
    • O14.93 – Unspecified pre-eclampsia, third trimester
    • O14.94 – Unspecified pre-eclampsia, complicating childbirth
    • O14.95 – Unspecified pre-eclampsia, complicating the puerperium

To observe World Preeclampsia Day, a wide range of events will be organized related to pre-eclampsia research. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Act Early”! “Screen Early”. Fact sheets, posters, flyers, and World Pre-eclampsia Day badges will be distributed. Social media graphics, Email signature banners and Facebook profile banners will also be created for both professional societies and parent-patient organizations.

Celebrate Pre-eclampsia Day on May 22. Know more about this hypertensive disorder associated with pregnancy.