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Queens Chronicle

Have a 'PEP Talk' to help prevent life-threatening pregnancy complications

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Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 1:00 am | Updated: 4:36 am, Tue May 27, 2014.

(BPT) - Pregnancy and childbirth should be an exciting time for women and their loved ones. For nine months, families are busy preparing and looking forward to meeting their healthy, happy baby. But pregnancy complications – or the thought that something could happen to the pregnant mother – are often the furthest thing from their minds.

Tragically, every day about 800 women around the world die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these deaths are preventable. Even here in the U.S., the rate of deaths from complications of pregnancy and childbirth has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.

“Maternal mortality is one of the world’s oldest and most preventable health tragedies affecting women around the globe and in our own backyard,” said Dr. Priya Agrawal, executive director, Merck for Mothers. “As a global healthcare leader, Merck created Merck for Mothers – a 10-year, $500 million initiative – to help tackle this devastating issue and raise awareness about leading pregnancy complications.”

Three of the leading causes of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth in the United States are:

* Preeclampsia - Defined as severe high blood pressure, often accompanied by the presence of protein in the urine during pregnancy, childbirth, or after delivery

* Embolism (pulmonary) - Defined as a sudden blockage of an artery in the lung, usually caused by a blood clot that travels to the lung from a vein in the leg

* Post-partum hemorrhage - Defined as excessive bleeding during or after giving birth

Together, the first letters of these three causes spell “PEP.” Families and friends can help in the fight to ensure a healthy pregnancy by making sure their loved ones “Have a PEP Talk” with a healthcare professional about potential pregnancy complications. Any woman can be at risk for pregnancy complications, so it’s important that they understand the signs and symptoms.

Who should have a PEP Talk?

Anyone pregnant or considering becoming pregnant – and their family members – should talk to a healthcare professional about potential pregnancy complications.

Some key questions to ask a healthcare professional:

1. What are the leading complications that can be experienced during pregnancy that I should be aware of?

2. What are the risk factors associated with these complications?

3. Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk?

4. What are the warning signs that I or my family should look out for?

Encourage a loved one to have a PEP Talk with a healthcare professional. Visit MerckforMothers.com/PEPTalk to take the pledge and find out more.

Welcome to the discussion.