Pre-eclampsia can prevent the unborn baby from receiving enough oxygen and nutrients, which can result in slowed development, low birth weight, premature birth and death, according to Mayo Clinic. This results from a lack of adequate blood flow to the placenta or placental abruption, both of which are complications of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia can result in HELLP syndrome or eclampsia, which are life-threatening conditions for the baby and the mother and require immediate delivery of the baby.
Pre-eclampsia affects the arteries carrying blood to the placenta and increases the risk of placental abruption, in which the placenta detaches from the uterus before delivery. Severe abruption causes heavy bleeding and is life-threatening to the baby and mother, states Mayo Clinic. HELLP syndrome is a condition involving destruction of the red blood cells, low platelet count and elevated liver enzymes, resulting in damage to multiple organs in the mother's body. Eclampsia occurs as a result of failure to control pre-eclampsia, causing the condition to progress further and lead to seizures.
The earlier and more severe the pre-eclampsia, the greater the risk to the baby and the mother, warns Mayo Clinic. It can require doctors to induce labor and delivery or perform a cesarean section regardless of how far along the pregnancy is, which may leave the baby suffering the effects of premature birth.