Pregnancy is the period from conception to birth and is the time of the growth and development of one or more children in the uterus of a woman.
A pregnancy is considered to be at risk when a problem is more likely than usual to occur. Such a problem could be caused by a health condition the mother had before she was pregnant. It could also be a problem that arises during pregnancy or delivery.
The women who have known risk factors account for greatest percent of the problems that occur. However, not all problems can be predicted. About 1 in 5 infants who have serious problems are born to mothers who had no known risk factors during pregnancy.
The following health problems in the mother can increase the risk of her pregnancy: high blood pressureheart disease, lung disease, or liver diseasesexually transmitted infections, or STIsurinary tract infectionsviral or bacterial infectionsdiabetes, which means that sugar in the blood is difficult to controlsevere asthmaseizure disorders or epilepsyposttraumatic stress disorderhypothyroidism, or a low level of thyroid hormone production
Problems related to the current pregnancy or past pregnancies can increase the risk to the mother and baby, such as: problems in past pregnanciesadolescent pregnancy, especially pregnancy in a mother who is younger than 15 years of ageadvanced maternal age, which means pregnancy in a woman older than 35 years of ageprevious birth defectsmultiple fetuses, for example, twins or tripletspregnancies that are less than 6 months or more than 5 years apartvaginal bleeding, especially during the second trimester or third trimesterpreeclampsia, which is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure associated with certain other problemsabnormal heartbeat in the babyintrauterine growth restriction (UGR), a condition in which a baby is not growing properly for his or her gestational age
Lifestyle issues in the mother that can increase her pregnancy risk factors are as follows: smokingdrinking alcoholcaffeine intake, particularly in the first trimestertaking drugs and herbal remedies not prescribed by a healthcare providerpoor nutrition, including low levels of folic acidlack of prenatal caremultiple sexual partnersexposure to pesticides
To screen for risk factors, several lab tests are done at different times during pregnancy, including the following: blood tests to identify blood type and Rh factor, to check for a low red blood cell count caused by anemia, and to detect some sexually transmitted diseasesurine tests to check levels of sugar, protein, and bacteria. These urine tests screen for urinary tract infections, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
Depending on the mother's medical history, family medical background, and the results of routine tests, more tests to check the growth and health of the baby may be suggested.
Genetic counseling is strongly advised for couples with a risk factor of having a child with a birth defect or serious genetic illness.
Risk factors for this are as follows: a mother who will be 35 years old or older when the baby is duea family or personal history of birth defects, genetic conditions such as Tay-Sachs disease or Down syndrome, or certain medical disorders known as inborn errors of metabolisma previous child with a birth defect or genetic disease such as sickle cell anemiacertain ethnic backgrounds, including African-American, Mediterranean, Asian, French-Canadian, or Ashkenazi Jewish3 or more miscarriages in a row
Planning for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond. Second Edition The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
What to Expect when You're Expecting, Eisenberg