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HELLP syndrome

  • Treatment

    The main treatment is to deliver the baby as soon as possible, even if the baby is premature. Problems with the liver and other complications of HELLP syndrome can quickly get worse and be harmful to both the mother and child.

    Your doctor may induce labor by giving you drugs to start labor, or may perform a C-section.

    You may also receive:

    • A blood transfusion if bleeding problems become severe
    • Corticosteroid medications to help the baby's lungs develop faster
    • Medications to treat high blood pressure

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    Expectations (prognosis)

    When the disease is not treated early, up to 1 out of 4 women develop serious complications. Without treatment, a small number of women die.

    The death rate among babies born to mothers with HELLP syndrome depends on birth weight and the development of the baby's organs, especially the lungs. (See also: Prematurity)

    HELLP syndrome may return in up to 1 out of 4 future pregnancies.


    There can be complications before and after the baby is delivered, including:

    • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) -- a clotting disorder that leads to excess bleeding (hemorrhage)
    • Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
    • Kidney failure
    • Liver hemorrhage and failure
    • Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placental abruption)

    After the baby is born and HELLP syndrome has time to improve, most of these complications will go away.

    Calling your health care provider

    If symptoms of HELLP syndrome occur during pregnancy:

    • See your obstetrician immediately
    • Call the local emergency number (such as 911)
    • Get to the emergency room

    Although there is no known way to prevent HELLP syndrome, it is important for all pregnant women to start prenatal care early and continue it through the pregnancy. This allows the health care provider to find and treat conditions such as HELLP syndrome early.