Health Questions and Answers

Question: How is preeclampsia classified? What are the implications of the classification?


Preeclampsia is classified as mild and severe. Preeclampsia is considered severe if any one of a number of systems shows evidence of significant compromise. Any of the following parameters classify a woman’s preeclampsia as severe:

  • Systolic blood pressure > 160 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure > 110 mmHg on two occasions at least 6 hours apart
  • Proteinuria ≥ 5 gm/24 hr
  • Oliguria < 500 cc/24 hr
  • Cerebral or visual symptoms
  • Epigastric or right upper quadrant pain
  • Pulmonary edema or cyanosis
  • Low platelets
  • Elevated liver function tests
  • Fetal growth restriction

The definition of mild preeclampsia is any preeclampsia that is not considered severe. There is no category of moderate preeclampsia.

The classification of severity is directly related to management and the decision about when to deliver the baby.


  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Diagnosis and Management of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 33. Obstet Gynecol 99:159-167, 2002.
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Chronic Hypertension in Pregnancy. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 29. Obstet Gynecol 98:177-185, 2001.

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