As of 2015, the exact cause of eclampsia is unknown, notes Healthline. Eclampsia often comes after preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Its effects may affect the brain, causing seizures, and leading to eclampsia.
Eclampsia can develop from preeclampsia, which is a form of high blood pressure that mainly develops during the second half of pregnancy, causing swelling or edema and protein in the urine. Experts believe that preeclampsia results from an improper development of blood vessels in the placenta during pregnancy. These vessels are narrower than normal blood vessels, limiting the amount of blood flowing through them. Causes of this condition may include damage to the blood vessels, a problem with the immune system and an insufficient flow of blood to the uterus, states Mayo Clinic.
Risk factors for eclampsia during pregnancy include high blood pressure, being over 35 or below 20, being pregnant for the first time, especially with twins, diabetes and a history of poor diet. Symptoms of eclampsia include loss of consciousness, seizures and headaches or muscle pain, notes Healthline. Preeclampsia accompanied by complications such as a low platelet count, fluid in the lungs, visual disturbance and impaired liver function after the 20th week of pregnancy requires treatment. Giving birth is the only cure for eclampsia, according to WebMD.