Story by: Lynne Choate on September 28, 2018
High-risk pregnancies account for about six percent to eight percent of pregnancies. Though the reasons for a pregnancy to be high risk can vary, one constant is that you and your baby will need specialized care.
“Women considered high risk may be referred to a maternal and fetal medicine specialist or perinatalogist,” said W. Vance Cuthrell, M.D., with Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine. “These specialists have advanced training in caring for obstetrical, medical and surgical complications of pregnancy. We work with obstetricians and family physicians even before conception and all the way through delivery.”
There are four categories of most high-risk pregnancies:
Women under age 17 and over age 35 at the time of delivery are at greater risk of complications than those between their late teens and early 30s. The risk of miscarriage and genetic defects increases after age 40.
An expectant mother’s pre-existing medical conditions can lead to complications during pregnancy and delivery, putting her at a high risk.
High blood pressure or lung, kidney and heart problems are common pre-existing conditions that can lead to complications during pregnancy and delivery.
Conditions that require mom to take medications regularly can affect the baby’s growth and development in the womb. Those include diabetes, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Medical conditions that develop during a pregnancy are unusual but can happen. The two most common are pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Whether you expect a high-risk pregnancy or not, include the expertise of Norton Women’s Care and Norton Children’s in your birth plan.
It is important to note that women who develop pre-eclampsia may be at risk for heart disease. Her primary provider and/or a cardiologist should monitor her.
High-risk pregnancy-related issues can range from carrying twins or more, premature labor (earlier than 37 weeks gestation), placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta covers the cervix) and fetal problems.
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