High Risk Pregnancy (Part II) – Risk Factors During Pregnancy

Part I of this two-part series, Pre-Pregnancy Risk Factors, outlined some of the pre-existing conditions that may lead to a high-risk pregnancy. In this section, we examine some conditions that can appear during pregnancy and contribute to a high-risk pregnancy.

Risk Factors during Pregnancy:

The fact that alcohol, cigarette and other drug use during pregnancy pose great risk to the fetus is widely known. Many over the counter and prescription drugs are no exception, and consulting with your physician prior to taking any drug during pregnancy is advised. Here we examine some medical conditions appearing during pregnancy that can contribute to an increased risk during pregnancy:

-Anemia: Anemia can be caused by an iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiency, though it can also result from other health conditions. Anemia is common in pregnant women because of the increased demand placed on their bodies by the developing fetus. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to other cells. During pregnancy, a woman has an increased amount of blood for which to produce hemoglobin, and the fetus utilizes iron to produce red blood cells, resulting in a significantly increased need for iron.

Iron and folic acid supplements or prenatal vitamins containing appropriate levels of both can prevent or treat anemia in many cases. It is important to consult with your physician to determine the best health regimen for your body’s unique needs during pregnancy.

-Infections: Bacterial or viral infections, even those unrelated to the pregnancy, can create risk for the fetus and mother. Urinary tract infections are not uncommon during pregnancy, and pose risks such as early rupture of membranes holding the fetus and premature labor. Bacterial vaginosis can also cause premature labor or rupturing of these membranes. Rubella has been known to cause heart and ear related birth defects. Fortunately, rubella is rare in America because most people are immunized against it. Antibiotics can be used to treat some infections and reduce the risk of related health issues.

-Preeclampsia: As mentioned in Part I, increased blood pressure during pregnancy is characteristic of preeclampsia. The risk of preeclampsia is greater for women with preexisting high blood pressure, women carrying more than one fetus, women in their first pregnancy and those under 15 or over 35 years of age.

-Thromboembolic Disease: Being the leading cause of death during pregnancy in the U.S., thromboembolic disease can be a legitimate concern for an expectant mother. With thromboembolic disease, blood clots form and can travel through the body and block arteries. The risk for this condition remains for a few weeks after delivery, and is more common in women who have had cesarean sections than those who have had vaginal deliveries. Prevention and treatment of thromboembolic disease are possible.

Other complications such as gestational diabetes, an excess of amniotic fluid and placental abruption also contribute to High risk pregnancy OBGYN. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the level of risk associated with a pregnancy, and each woman’s circumstances are unique. Regular medical care and monitoring of risks present before, during and following pregnancy can help reduce risk through prevention and treatment.

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