When a woman learns she is pregnant, it can be a time of great joy, excitement and anticipation. But, it can also be a time of anxiety, stress and worry if the pregnancy is considered high-risk. A high-risk pregnancy suggests that in order to have a healthy and successful pregnancy and delivery, extra care is needed. Women, who begin a normal pregnancy, may develop conditions that put her in the high-risk category, which occur in about six to eight percent of all pregnancies. But many more pregnancies—close to 50%—are at risk and would benefit from the specialized care provided by a maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist (high-risk pregnancy provider).
What are common risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy?
There are many reasons in which a pregnancy might be considered high-risk. The most common include:
- Advanced maternal age – Pregnant women over age 35 have a higher risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction.
- Pre-existing medical conditions – A woman’s health plays a big role in her pregnancy. Those with high blood pressure, diabetes, lung, kidney or heart problems, or autoimmune or sexually transmitted diseases have a higher risk of miscarriage or other complications.
- Co-occurring medical conditions – Conditions that occur during pregnancy like preeclampsia (high blood pressure) or gestational diabetes can be dangerous or even fatal to the pregnant woman or her fetus if they are not medically treated.
- Pregnancy-related issues – Certain infections, a shortened cervix or a previous premature birth may put the pregnant woman and her fetus at risk for premature labor.
- Multiple pregnancy – Carrying multiples (e.g., twins, triplets, etc.) also increase a woman’s risk for premature labor, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Placenta previa –Placenta previa is another pregnancy-related issue that may put the woman at risk during pregnancy and delivery. This condition causes excessive bleeding, especially if a woman has contractions. In this case, doctors may schedule a cesarean section to minimize the bleeding risks to the mother and baby.
- Depression – Depression in pregnant women may result in a preterm birth, low birth weight and a higher incidence of cesarean section.
- Blood disorders – Blood disorders, like sickle cell disease, can increase a women’s risk of urinary tract infections, fetal loss, preterm labor and intrauterine growth restriction during pregnancy.
- Obesity – Obesity affects approximately 35% of all women of reproductive age. Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage, stillbirth and recurrent miscarriage.
- Gestational diabetes –Diabetes occurs in 13% of pregnancies in Nevada and tight control of sugars can decrease the risk of preeclampsia, cesarean delivery and injury in the birth process
Our obstetric subspecialists are highly trained and experienced in maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) and offer the most advanced testing and treatment options for high-risk pregnancy in Las Vegas, Henderson and Reno. Call High Risk Pregnancy Center at 702-382-3200 to learn more or schedule an appointment.