What is a high-risk pregnancy?
Your pregnancy is
called high-risk if you or your baby has an increased chance of a health
problem. Many things can put you at high risk. Being called "high-risk" may
sound scary. But it's just a way for doctors to make sure that you get special
attention during your pregnancy. Your doctor will watch you closely during your
pregnancy to find any problems early.
The conditions listed below
put you and your baby at a higher risk for problems, such as slowed growth for
preeclampsia, and problems with the
placenta. But it's important to remember that being at
high risk doesn't mean that you or your baby will have problems.
Your health plan may have its own list of what makes a pregnancy
high-risk. In general, your pregnancy may be high-risk if:
- You have a health problem, such as:
- You use alcohol or illegal drugs, or you
- You are younger than 17 or older than 35.
are pregnant with more than one baby (multiple pregnancy).
- You have
had three or more
- Your baby has been found to
have a genetic condition, such as
Down syndrome, or a heart, lung, or kidney
- You had a problem in a past pregnancy, such as:
- Preterm labor.
or seizures (eclampsia).
- Having a baby with a genetic
problem, such as Down syndrome.
- You have an infection, such as
hepatitis C. Other infections that can cause a problem
- You are taking certain medicines, such as lithium, phenytoin
(such as Dilantin), valproic acid (Depakene), or carbamazepine (such as
Other health problems can make your pregnancy high-risk.
These include heart valve problems,
sickle cell disease,
rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor about any
health problems you have.
How will your doctor care for you during your pregnancy?
You will have more visits to the doctor than a woman who does not have a
high-risk pregnancy. You may have more
ultrasound tests to make sure that your baby is
growing well. You will have regular blood pressure checks. And your urine will
be tested to look for protein (a sign of preeclampsia) and urinary tract
Tests for genetic or other problems also may be done,
especially if you are 35 or older or if you had a genetic problem in a past
Your doctor will prescribe any medicine you may need,
such as for diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure.
Talk to your
doctor about where he or she would like you to give birth. Your doctor may want
you to have your baby in a hospital that offers special care for women and
babies who may have problems.
If your doctor thinks that your
health or your baby's health is at risk, you may need to have the baby