Birth Definitions

Toxemia Definition

Toxemia, also known as preeclampsia, is a condition that can occur during pregnancy in which the mother’s blood pressure becomes elevated and she experiences protein in her urine. While toxemia can occur at any time during pregnancy, it typically develops after the 20th week.

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of toxemia, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, history of previous preeclampsia, and in some cases the placenta not developing properly due to a problem with the blood vessels supplying it. Toxemia can also be caused by an imbalance in the levels of certain hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone.


The most common symptom of toxemia is high blood pressure. Other symptoms include edema (swelling), proteinuria (protein in the urine), and changes in vision. If left untreated, toxemia can lead to serious complications for both the mother and the baby, including kidney damage, liver damage, placental abruption, maternal mortality, premature birth, low birth weight, and even stillbirth.


Toxemia is diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, laboratory testing, and fetal monitoring. The most common is to check the mother’s blood pressure and for protein in the urine, and to look for signs of fluid retention. Treatment typically involves close monitoring of the mother and baby, as well as bed rest and a diet low in salt. In some cases, medication may be necessary to control the mother’s blood pressure. If toxemia is severe, delivery may be recommended to protect the health of both the mother and baby.

While toxemia can be a serious condition, it is important to remember that it is also relatively rare. With proper medical care, most women with toxemia will go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies.

This image shows how often the term ‘Toxemia’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Related Terms

Other terms related to toxemia include preeclampsia and eclampsia. Preeclampsia is a milder form of toxemia that usually occurs during the second half of pregnancy. Eclampsia is a more severe form of preeclampsia that can occur during pregnancy or after delivery.

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