A case of amphetamine abuse in late pregnancy is reported. The presenting features of convulsions, confusion, agitation with hypertension and proteinuria led to a diagnosis of eclampsia for which a caesarean section was performed. Investigations and differential diagnosis of convulsions in late pregnancy are reviewed. A general urinary drug screen gives results after 24 hr whereas, if amphetamine abuse is suspected, this can be confirmed within three hr if a specific test for urinary amphetamines is performed. The sympathomimetic effects of a single dose of amphetamine are contrasted with the depression of the sympathetic nervous system which occurs after long-term use. Implications for anaesthesia are discussed.
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