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High-risk pregnancy is any pregnancy that is accompanied with health problems that can pose a risk to the mother or threatens development and birth of the fetus. There are various factors that can cause high-risk pregnancy and can be divided into the maternal and fetal. Due to some of these factors, pre-term delivery or surgical delivery may be required.

Maternal Risk Factors

Factors related to the mother that may complicate a pregnancy include:35 years of age or older15 years of age or youngerBeing underweight or overweight prior to conceptionHeight under five feetHistory of problems in previous pregnancies (such as stillbirth, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, etc.)Bleeding in the third trimesterReproductive tract abnormalitiesSix or more previous pregnanciesMultiple pregnancyHealth problems developed during a pregnancy (such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes) Pre-exisiting chronic medical problems (such as asthma, HIV/AIDS, lupus, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and other)Fetal Risk Factors

Fetal factors that may cause high-risk pregnancy include:Exposure to infections that may cause birth defects (such as viral hepatitis, rubella, syphilis, toxoplasmosis and herpes simplex)Exposure to harmful drugs (like phenytoin, lithium, streptomycin, warfarin, thalidomide, tetracycline and drugs that interfere with folic acid)Exposure to toxins such as nicotine, alcohol and illegal drugsPrenatal tests indicating the fetus has a serious health problemManagement

High-risk pregnancy requires monitoring by a perinatologist. A perinatologist is an obstetrician who has specialized in managing patients with high-risk pregnancies. Pregnancies that are termed high-risk need special attention that includes more frequent checkups, blood tests, amniocentesis, more frequent ultrasound tests and fetal monitoring. This prenatal care is designed to reduce the complications of high-risk pregnancy. The treatment depends on the factor that causes high-risk pregnancy.


Prognosis depends on underlying condition that has led to high-risk pregnancy. For instance, thyroid disease that can pose a risk to a pregnancy if adequately treated will threaten neither mother nor baby. Some medical conditions may be worsening by a pregnancy and they include asthma, epilepsy and ulcerative colitis. Thereby, women with chronic health problems need closer monitoring. Some medical conditions can severely affect pregnancy and they include lupus and kidney disease. Such conditions can cause many problems for the mother and the baby and even cause stillbirth. Diabetes can affect pregnancy but also be affected by a pregnancy. Diabetes increases the risk of miscarriage, birth defects and stillbirth. When treated, diabetes will not complicate a pregnancy so much. However, blood sugar thus need for insulin increases during a pregnancy. All in all, a woman, with the help of a specialist, must weigh the risks of pregnancy prior to conception.

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