Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects some pregnant women during the second half of their pregnancy.

Early signs of the condition include high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

As the condition becomes more advanced, further symptoms can develop. 

These include swelling of the feet, face and hands, a severe headache, vision problems and pain below the ribs.

Pre-eclampsia affects up to five per cent of pregnancies and is severe in about one to two per cent.

It is more likely during a first pregnancy, if the woman has had it in a previous pregnancy, if the woman has a family history of the condition, if the woman is over 40, or if she is carrying more than one baby.

The condition is often mild but can lead to severe complications if it is not monitored and treated.

The only way to cure pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby, until this happens, some sufferers are given medication to lower their blood pressure.

Although most cases of pre-eclampsia do not lead to problems, there is a risk that the mother will develop fits – these can be life threatening for the mother and baby but are rare.

Occasionally, the condition can also cause the mother to suffer a stroke or organ failure.

About six or seven women die from complications of pre-eclampsia in the UK every year and about 1,000 babies die as a result of the condition – usually because of complications of early delivery.