Toxemia is the presence of abnormal substances in the blood, but the term is also used in reference to a condition in pregnancy also known as preeclampsia. This refers to pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure) and any possible accompanying symptoms, such as quick or sudden weight gain, water retention, and excessive swelling of the feet, hands, and face. The condition is most common among first pregnancies, with multiple births (e.g., twins), in younger or older women, and in women who had preeclampsia in previous pregnancies. It generally occurs near the due date, but it can also occur earlier in pregnancy. When monitoring a female with toxemia, the blood pressure and urine protein are checked often and bed rest may be prescribed. Toxemia can be mild or severe. When severe, it is dangerous for both the pregnant female and her child, especially if the mother's blood pressure gets too high.

Judith C. Rodriguez


Sizer, Frances, and Whitney, Eleanor (2003). Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, 9th edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson.

Internet Resources

Hill, D. Ashley. "Issues and Procedures in Women's Health: Pre-eclampsia." Available from