Maternal and perinatal outcomes of eclampsia: Nova Scotia, 1981-2000

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2004 Feb;26(2):119-23. doi: 10.1016/s1701-2163(16)30487-x.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of eclampsia and the associated maternal and perinatal outcomes in the province of Nova Scotia.

Methods: From the Nova Scotia Atlee Perinatal Database, the population-based rates of preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count) syndrome for the period 1988 to 2000 were determined. A retrospective case review was then performed of all women with eclampsia at the tertiary maternity hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Women's Hospital, IWK Health Centre, for the years 1981 to 2000.

Results: In the province of Nova Scotia from 1988 to 2000, there were 142,362 births. Thirty-nine women developed eclampsia (0.27/1000). Over this time interval, the prevalence of severe preeclampsia fell from 2.08% to 1.63%, and the diagnosis of HELLP syndrome increased from 0.03% to 0.31%. At the Women's Hospital, IWK Health Centre, between 1981 and 2000, there were 31 cases of eclampsia in 105,651 deliveries (0.29/1000). Sixty-one percent of first convulsions occurred antepartum, 13% occurred intrapartum, and 26% occurred postpartum. Eighty-one percent of women reported prodromal symptoms. Sixty-one percent of the women received anti-hypertensive therapies, 48% received antiepileptic therapies, and 97% received magnesium sulfate. Ten percent of the women had convulsions while on magnesium sulfate therapy. Antepartum eclampsia was associated with increased rates of general anaesthesia (26%) and Caesarean section (79%). There were no maternal deaths, but the rate of major maternal complications was 32%. The perinatal mortality rate was 64 in 1000 deliveries, and the rate of severe perinatal complications was 56%.

Conclusion: The incidence of eclampsia in Nova Scotia is 0.27 per 1000 deliveries. Although rare, this condition is associated with significant maternal and perinatal morbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Eclampsia / drug therapy
  • Eclampsia / epidemiology*
  • Eclampsia / mortality
  • Female
  • HELLP Syndrome / drug therapy
  • HELLP Syndrome / epidemiology
  • HELLP Syndrome / mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnesium Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Nova Scotia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / drug therapy
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / etiology


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Magnesium Sulfate