Kim Kardashian’s premature labor earlier this week, nearly one month before her reported due date, may have been triggered by an illness similar to the one that killed off a beloved “Downton Abbey” character. According to a new report, doctors induced Kardashian’s labor for the birth of her daughter with boyfriend Kanye West, early because she was suffering from symptoms that might have stemmed from a potentially dangerous condition called preeclampsia.
If left untreated, preeclampsia can turn into the potentially life-threatening condition eclampsia, which is characterized by seizures and comas in pregnant women, and which was featured in the Season Three storyline of the PBS hit show “Downton Abbey.” In a tragic episode that aired in the United States in mid-January, one of the show’s popular characters Sybil Crawley, experienced some unsettling symptoms during her pregnancy that were first noticed by her local physician, Dr. Clarkson.
Although Clarkson’s opinion was overruled by the ritzier attending physician who had been specially hired for Sybil’s delivery, her symptoms gradually progressed from swollen ankles and disorientation to full-blown seizures, and eventually resulted in her death. While “Downton Abbey” is set in in the early 1900s, making Sybil’s health diagnosis much graver than it would be today, the condition continues to affect an estimated one out of 2,000 or 3,000 pregnancies. In 2 percent of cases, eclampsia is fatal.
Preeclampsia, which is less serious than eclampsia, may be triggered by substances in the placenta that are rejected by the mother’s immune system. The Mayo Clinic defines preeclampsia as “high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman who previously had normal blood pressure.”
Kardashian, 32, was thought to have showed possible signs of preeclampsia when she experienced extreme swelling 37 weeks into her pregnancy. Family friends told People magazine Kim’s swelling prompted doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to induce labor and thereby remove the placenta – the best cure for the condition.
Throughout her pregnancy, which was chronicled on Kardashian's E! reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," she continually complained about severe abdominal pain and was even tested for appendicitis. "It feels like I am in labor. Why is this happening to me? I hate it, I can never do this again," Kardashian told her mother, during a taped doctor's visit. Kardashian hasn't confirmed whether her health issues during the pregnancy were related to preeclampsia, but family members have said she's now fine.
According to sources, Kardashian and her daughter – whose name has not yet been announced – are both doing well. The baby is currently being incubated to regulate her body temperature, but a hospital source told the Post she was “doing very well.”
“It's a great sign that [the baby] is not in the ICU,” OB-GYN Dr. Shelena Lalji told People.
“I don’t think she [Kardashian] was scared,” a family friend added. “She was just ready.”