Molly Herring is well aware of the dangers of preeclampsia, a life-threatening complication of pregnancy for both mother and child. At 29 weeks, Herring was diagnosed with the illness and was rushed into delivery.
Today, her daughter is 8, and Herring is working for ways to stop the illness from affecting more women and families. Herring is chairwoman of the annual Raleigh Promise Walk for Preeclampsia, which is scheduled for May 18 at East Clayton Community Park and aims to raise money and awareness.
It’s one of more than 50 walks across the country that are scheduled to support the Preeclampsia Foundation, a nonprofit established to fund and drive research, raise public and professional awareness and provide support and education for those whose lives have been touched by preeclampsia.
I checked in with Herring to learn more about preeclampsia and the walk. Here’s a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: You are the walk coordinator for the upcoming Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. Why is this issue near and dear to your heart?
Molly Herring: This is my sixth year coordinating the Raleigh Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. My daughter was due Dec. 25, 2010. Due to severe preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, another dangerous complication of pregnancy, I was induced at 29 weeks and my daughter was born on Oct. 29, 2010, only weighing 2 pounds and 12 ounces and measuring 16.5 inches.
I became involved with the foundation after giving birth as a means of support. My daughter and I are the lucky ones as my doctors recognized the symptoms. Our mission is to stop preventable death and disability of mothers and babies by eliminating delays in diagnosis, implementing the best-known practices, developing new practices, and helping women and their families through the impact of preeclampsia.
GAM: What are the warning signs that a woman needs to get help?
MH: Swelling, high blood pressure, headache, sudden weight gain and changes in vision are among them.
Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation in the late second or third trimesters or middle-to-late pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum, even after the delivery. In rare cases, it also can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia. HELLP Syndrome and eclampsia, the onset of seizures, are other variants of preeclampsia.
Treatments include medications to prevent seizures such as magnesium sulfate and to lower blood pressure. Ultimately, delivering the baby is the most effective treatment, although some mothers will get worse before they get better and an even smaller number will develop preeclampsia for the first time after delivery.
Globally, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year.
GAM: How can preeclampsia affect the baby?
MH: Preeclampsia affects the blood flow to the placenta, often leading to prematurely born babies. It is one of the most common complications of pregnancy, with estimates ranging from 5% to 8% of all pregnancies, and is one of the leading known causes of premature birth. Every year, almost 300,000 pregnancies in the United States are complicated by preeclampsia; with approximately 25% of those reaching severe or critical status.
GAM: Tell us about the walk. What’s planned? How can people get involved?
MH: The walk is May 18, 2019 at East Clayton Community Park, 1774 Glen Laurel Rd., Clayton, NC 27520. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m. It’s a family-friendly walk and event with activities for kids, raffles, auctions, drinks, snacks and so much more.
GAM: You’re walking to boost awareness and a cure for preeclampsia. What are your hopes for the future?
MH: The goal for this event is to raise money to fund research, professional and patient education, provide family support, and increase awareness regarding the long-term impact of preeclampsia on women’s cardiovascular health. We believe that educational efforts directed to health care providers and patients will help reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths and disabilities that occur as a result of preeclampsia.
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