Life Experience through the Den of a Silent Killer: A Common Disease with an Unknown Cause

My journey into achieving pregnancy was a very long one and when it finally happened, I expected it to go in the way of my dreams: cute maternity dresses and probably sessions of Photo Shoot every month for record purpose. I woke up one morning at about 12 weeks into the pregnancy and could not seem to recognize the face starring back at me in the mirror: swollen face, hands and feet. I can vividly recall describing the feeling to my physician, it felt as if there were puddles of water with fishes dancing through my limbs. My shoes no longer fit and my head was constantly floating in the clouds. I always dread to getting out of bed each morning because of wave of nausea and spam of powerful retching that lasted the entire 36 weeks of pregnancy.

The news that my baby would be born preterm was also devastating but the battle for my life was more important. I was on total bed rest for the entire pregnancy and delivered of my baby at 36 weeks through a C-section when my BP hit 250/ 140mmHg, my head was definitely in the clouds. I remained in coma for 72 hours and lost lots of body fluid. These and more are some of the trauma pregnant women pass through especially in developing countries. My physician congratulated me that I exhibited symptoms which made my case more manageable as his team were already prepared for all unforeseen circumstances. He explained that some pregnant women do not exhibit symptoms and may suffer seizures during or immediately after delivery. Which could be fatal.

After I recovered, I began a quest to create awareness and find preventive measures for the silent killer. I wondered what would have become of me if I didn’t have access to standard healthcare and firsthand information which got me prepared for possible outcomes. There are thousands of women of childbearing age that are not aware of what the disease is. As I began my quest into knowing more, I came across many articles, journals and books but found out there is no definitive cause for the disease. According to WHO, the incidence of preeclampsia is seven times higher in developing countries than in developed countries (Kayode, et al., 2011) (read more, http://www. ). It is a disease that had robbed many women of their lives and those bundles of joy they longed waited for.

I joined Centre for Population and Reproductive Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan in August, 2018 and was excited to come across a study conducted in collaboration with University of Chicago tagged ‘ HAP.’ The study showed the effects of household pollution on pregnant women. (Read more @ The study provided some groups of pregnant women with ethanol cookstove and the control group cooked with kerosene stoves and firewoods. They were monitored from about 12thweek of pregnancy till delivery. The outcome of the study was quite interesting as it was found that the group provided with ethanol cookstove had reduction in adverse pregnancy outcomes including preeclampsia/ecplampsia and recorded babies with higher birth weight,
 read more .

There is a study conducted on Indian women also which also showed reduction of preeclampsia in women that used cleaner means for cooking ( .These studies showed that constant exposure to household pollution has significant negative effects on the health of pregnant women and their babies. What I wish to find out now is if constant exposure to household pollution before getting pregnant may also contribute to the risk of developing the disease in pregnancy.

The intriguing part of this disorder is that “it is still tagged the disease of theories”!!! I’m sure a nobel award awaits that first scientist that would unearth the real cause! However, awareness for potential pregnant mothers, their spouses and possibly their family is urgently needed to reduce the global burden of the disease, and the devastation of losing women through this disorder. No woman should get pregnant and not register for antenatal service with a qualified health worker, listen to the wise counsel of the health worker and promptly report any strange symptoms or signs during pregnancy. Above all we need more research as the global community awaits the first person to “crack” the cause of preeclampsia.

Leave a Reply