Preeclampsia is a serious complication that can develop during pregnancy. The condition is diagnosed when a pregnant woman has both high blood pressure as well as protein in her urine, which is known as proteinuria. (Proteinuria is often a sign that the mother's kidneys are not working properly.)

Preeclampsia can have systemic, or body-wide effects, said Dr. Arun Jeyabalan, a maternal and fetal medicine specialist at Magee-Womens Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who has done research on preeclampsia.

The disorder can affect other organs in the mother's body. A woman may also have kidney damage, liver failure, neurological symptoms, such as severe headaches, seizures, and fluid on the lungs (known as pulmonary edema), Jeyabalan said.