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Objective: To identify symptoms that prompted a group of women readmitted for postpartum severe preeclampsia or eclampsia to seek medical care.

Design: Retrospective, case-control.

Setting: Tertiary-care teaching hospital.

Subjects: The study group consisted of 53 women readmitted in the postpartum period with severe preeclampsia or eclampsia. The control group was matched two-to-one with an index study participant and consisted of 106 women who had intrapartum severe preeclampsia or eclampsia.

Main outcome Measures: Patient symptoms, physical findings, laboratory assays.

Results: Neurologic complaints, malaise, and nausea and vomiting were reported more often in women who were readmitted than in mothers with intrapartum preeclampsia (all p values less than .001). Headaches were positively correlated with systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressure in women who were readmitted (all p values less than .05), although there was no relationship between blood pressure and headaches in the control group. In addition, multivariate analysis revealed that study participants were more likely to deliver at full term, have headaches and malaise, have normal platelet values, and develop seizures than mothers in the control group, χ2= 155.7, p < .001.

Conclusions: Women readmitted for postpartum severe preeclampsia or eclampsia have a clinical presentation that differs from that of intrapartum preeclampsia or eclampsia.