A high risk pregnancy carries with it potential dangers to the fetus as well as the mother. While all pregnancies are susceptible to some risk, pre-existing conditions or some that can develop during pregnancy can lead to a high-risk pregnancy, posing even greater danger to mother and baby. In this two part series, we will examine some of the factors that can contribute to a high risk pregnancy, including conditions present prior to the pregnancy (Part I) and conditions that can develop during pregnancy (Part II). It is encouraged to consult with your health care provider prior to becoming pregnant or as soon as possible after conceiving so that your health can be assessed and precautions taken, if necessary. Pre-Pregnancy Risk Factors: While health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and diabetes increase risk during pregnancy, other factors such as carrying more than one baby, the womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s age and physical characteristics, or a problem pregnancy in the past can also contribute to a high-risk pregnancy. There are many pre-existing health conditions that can contribute to a high-risk pregnancy, a few of which are outlined below:-Heart Disease: It may come as no surprise that the number one killer of women in America also contributes to increased risk during pregnancy. If heart disease is severe before a woman becomes pregnant, the risk is even greater. Because pregnancy puts increasing demand on the heart, heart disease may worsen during pregnancy, or its symptoms may appear for the first time. In many cases, women with heart disease give birth to healthy babies with no long term effects. Because the risks associated with heart disease and pregnancy increase as the pregnancy progresses and can affect the fetus, regular visits to your healthcare provider are important. -High Blood Pressure: Having high blood pressure prior to pregnancy increases risk during pregnancy. Pregnancy can make high blood pressure worse and can lead to conditions such as preeclampsia, an increase in blood pressure occurring only in pregnant women. Risks include an underdeveloped fetus, placental abruption and stillbirth. If your condition is conducive, your physician may prescribe medication to help with high blood pressure. Any woman with high blood pressure should be closely monitored by medical professionals during pregnancy. -Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea and HIV also pose risks during pregnancy. Many sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia can be transmitted to the baby either through the placenta or during delivery. Chlamydia increases the risk of a premature birth and can give the baby conjunctivitis, an eye infection that can also result from gonorrhea. Herpes can be passed to the baby during childbirth and cause herpes encephalitis, a dangerous brain infection. The risks associated with STDs during pregnancy vary, and discussing proper precautions or treatments with your health care provider is encouraged. Many health conditions can contribute to a high-risk pregnancy in addition to those described above. Other factors, such as a low socioeconomic status, age (below 15 or over 35) and previous problem pregnancies also increase risks. Early and regular medical care during pregnancy can help identify risks that may be associated with pregnancy and lead to a personalized healthcare regimen to minimize those risks.
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Published on Jun 14, 2011