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Overview of High-Risk Pregnancy

By

Raul Artal-Mittelmark

, MD, Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Sep 2022| Content last modified Sep 2022
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There is no formal or universally accepted definition of a high-risk pregnancy. Generally, however, a high-risk pregnancy involves at least one of the following:

  • The woman or baby is more likely to become ill or die than usual.

  • Complications before or after delivery are more likely to occur than usual.

Many women with complex high-risk conditions benefit from treatment at a specialized center that provides care by doctors who specialize in high-risk pregnancies.

Risk Assessment During Pregnancy

Certain conditions or characteristics, called risk factors Risk Factors for High-Risk Pregnancy Some risk factors are present before women become pregnant. These risk factors include Certain physical characteristics, such as age and weight Problems in a previous pregnancy, including the... read more Risk Factors for High-Risk Pregnancy , make a pregnancy high risk. As part of routine care during pregnancy Medical Care During Pregnancy Ideally, a couple who is thinking of having a baby should see a doctor or other health care practitioner to discuss whether pregnancy is advisable. Usually, pregnancy is very safe. However,... read more , doctors check for these factors to determine the degree of risk for a particular woman and baby and thus to provide better medical care. For some couples, genetic evaluation Genetic Screening Genetic screening is used to determine whether a couple is at increased risk of having a baby with a hereditary genetic disorder. Hereditary genetic disorders are disorders of chromosomes or... read more is advisable. It involves assessing the couple’s family history and, if needed, analyzing blood or tissue samples (such as cells from the inside of the cheek). This evaluation is done to determine whether a couple is at increased risk of having a baby with a hereditary genetic disorder.

Factors that can affect risk in women include

High-risk pregnancies must be closely monitored, and women are often referred to a center that specializes in managing these pregnancies.

The most common reasons for referral before delivery are

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