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HELLP Syndrome in Pregnancy


Updated September 25, 2012

Mom in Hospital Bed in Labor
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HELLP Syndrome is a problem that is associated with preeclampsia or eclampsia in pregnancy. Typically, you will see it with the more severe cases. About 10 of women with preeclampsia/eclampsia will have HELLP Syndrome, which is a combination of the following symptoms:

  • H - hemolysis
  • EL - elevated liver enzymes
  • LP - low platelet count

When you start having issues with preeclampsia, your doctor or midwife may order additional testing to rule out HELLP. You might have blood work and a 24 hour urine collection. The blood work is to check on the liver enzymes and your platelet count. A physical exam may reveal that your upper abdomen is tender when touched, indicating that your liver may be enlarged.

Signs of HELLP Syndrome

  • Nausea (with or without vomiting)
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • High liver enzymes
  • Low blood platelets

Sometimes HELLP is misdiagnosed as something else, including a gall bladder attack. Be sure to talk to your practitioner about the testing and treatment if you're not feeling better.

HELLP syndrome needs to be treated early for the best results for you and the baby. This means that your baby will need to be born either by induction of labor or a cesarean, depending on where you are in your pregnancy and how severe your symptoms are of HELLP. This is done even if your baby is premature, as HELLP gets bad rather quickly and is reversed only with birth. If it's not treated early, about 25 of the mothers have very serious, lasting effects, including liver damage. The complications for babies depend on the point in gestation that they were born and the seriousness and length of complications experienced by the mother.

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  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Pregnancy & Childbirth
  4. Complications of Pregnancy
  5. Hypertension Preeclampsia
  6. HELLP Syndrome
  7. HELLP Syndrome in Pregnancy

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