Preeclampsia (PE) is a form of gestational hypertension that complicates ∼5% of pregnancies worldwide. Over 70% of the fatal cases of PE are attributed to cerebral oedema, intracranial haemorrhage and eclampsia. The aetiology of PE originates from abnormal remodelling of the maternal spiral arteries, creating an ischaemic placenta that releases factors that drive the pathophysiology. An initial neurological outcome of PE is the absence of the autonomically regulated cardiovascular adaptations to pregnancy. PE patients exhibit sympathetic overactivation, in comparison with both normotensive pregnant and hypertensive non-pregnant females. Moreover, PE diminishes baroreceptor reflex sensitivity (BRS) beyond that observed in healthy pregnancy. The absence of the cardiovascular adaptations to pregnancy, combined with sympathovagal imbalance and a blunted BRS leads to life-threatening neurological outcomes. Behaviourally, the increased incidences of maternal depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in PE are correlated to low fetal birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and premature birth. This review addresses these neurological consequences of PE that present in the gravid female both during and after the index pregnancy.

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