HELLP Syndrome In Pregnancy : Causes And Complications

HELLP syndrome is a serious placental disease and is generally linked to preeclampsia but it may occur even in women who have not been diagnosed with preeclampsia. It is a pregnancy complication that affects almost 0.6% of all pregnant women. HELLP syndrome in pregnancy primarily affects the liver.

Symptoms of HELLP syndrome include high blood pressure, swelling, protein in urine, bleeding, malaise, visual problems, severe headache, etc. The symptoms of this syndrome could lead to misdiagnosis of some other health conditions such as gallbladder disease, hepatitis, or ITP.


Experts are still not sure about the exact causes of the HELLP syndrome. Though, it is more commonly observed in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or preeclampsia, it is also observed in women who do not show any signs of preeclampsia.

Some health experts state that women with a family history of HELLP syndrome may be more prone to this syndrome during pregnancy. But this might not be the only cause behind HELLP syndrome because it has been observed that a few pregnant women suffer from this syndrome but do not have a history of HELLP syndrome.

Women who have suffered from preeclampsia during their previous pregnancies are more susceptible to develop HELLP syndrome in their present pregnancy. Also, if a woman had already been affected by the HELLP syndrome in earlier pregnancy then there is probability that she will experience this syndrome in her next pregnancy.

Obese women who also suffer from hypertension are more likely to develop HELLP syndrome during pregnancy. Another cause of HELLP syndrome is late pregnancies. Women who become pregnant after attaining the age of 25 are at an increased risk of suffering from this syndrome.

Women who belong to the Caucasian background or who are multiparous i.e. have delivered two or more children at a time are at increased risk of suffering from HELLP syndrome during pregnancy.


There are several complications associated with HELLP syndrome such as liver failure or liver damage, placental abruption, severe renal failure or kidney damage, pulmonary edema, and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). HELLP syndrome can also lead to lung failure in mother or lung failure in the baby. High blood pressure restricts the blood flow to various organs; hence it can also result in seizures. HELLP syndrome can even cause death of the mother as well as the baby. Hence it should be treated timely.

Rakesh Kumar Lakshman

Written many famous TV serials including Health Based TV Shows, several articles and stories for various renowned magazines and also written articles for websites.