High-Risk Pregnancy: Its Risk Factors, Preventative Measures, and Treatment

By | June 20, 2016

A high-risk pregnancy can be alarming news for both mother and baby.

Oftentimes, extra care and monitoring will be required especially while the baby is still in the womb. This is done to help warrant the safety of both parties.

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it is crucial that you gain insight as to why similar conditions occur and the likely causes so you’ll know what to do and what to look out for.

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Risk factors

More often than not, a high risk pregnancy may be caused by the following:

Pre-existing medical conditions

Medical conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular problems, autoimmune diseases, metabolic conditions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and immunodeficiency diseases can increase the risk for both mother and child.

In addition, a history of pregnancy problems such as miscarriage and a family history of genetic abnormalities are also considered significant factors.

If you have any of the aforementioned medical conditions, make sure you seek advice from a healthcare practitioner before you decide to become pregnant. Your doctor may require you to undergo a series of tests and prescribe appropriate medications to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Age

Compared to women in their early or late twenties, those who are under 17 years of age or over 35 have a higher risk of having complications during pregnancy. Likewise, women in their early 40s are found to have an increased risk of having miscarriages.

Health problems that appear during pregnancy

Although perfectly healthy prior to pregnancy, some women become susceptible to developing serious medical conditions while conceiving. Some of these conditions include the following:

Preeclampsia

This condition occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by fluid retention, high blood pressure, and proteinuria (abnormal amount of protein in the urine).

If left untreated, this can jeopardize the health of both the mother and the unborn baby. If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, make sure you strictly follow and adhere to whatever instructions and recommendation your doctor will prescribe.

With proper management, the risks of complications that can potentially result to maternal and infant death are greatly reduced.

Gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM

This type of diabetes only affects pregnant women. Gestational diabetes usually develops later in the pregnancy, often in the third trimester. This is the time when the placenta produces more hormones. This excessive hormone production eventually inhibits the mother’s insulin.

GDM usually disappears once the baby is born. However, affected women will become more vulnerable at developing type 2 DM.

Pregnancy-related problems

In some cases, a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t occur because of the mother’s health but due to the pregnancy itself.

Premature labor

Otherwise known as preterm labor, this occurs when uterine contractions cause the cervix to open earlier than expected (often before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Factors that predispose a woman to this condition include shortened cervix, urinary tract infections, and/or a history of premature birth.

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Placenta previa

This is a condition where the placenta wholly or partially covers the cervix, thereby inhibiting the normal process of vaginal delivery.

When the woman is about to give birth and the placenta is still covering the cervix, the doctor will most likely resort to cesarean section to minimize bleeding.

Fetal problems

About 2 to 3 per cent of all babies develop structural problems while still in the womb.

Congenital anomalies or other fetal issues can be detected by an ultrasound. Sometimes, the cause of these conditions can be attributed to family history. However, in some cases, they are totally unexpected.

Preventative Measures and Treatment

To reduce the risk of developing any pregnancy-related conditions, it would be best to check with a healthcare practitioner. Most doctors would strongly recommend regular prenatal appointments even if you think it would be unnecessary. Keep in mind that when it comes to your safety and that of the baby, it pays to have all the bases covered.

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