5 conditions that can affect a pregnancy

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Hearing the news that she is pregnant can cause emotion, but also anxiety about the unknown.

A common fear for many women is to be at high risk —When the mother or baby has risk factors or medical conditions during pregnancy. Research shows that 8% of all pregnancies are at high risk.

“It’s important to know that most women have successful pregnancies,” says Thaddeus Waters, MD, Rush’s maternal-fetal medicine specialist. “There may be challenges along the way and it may require additional assessments and follow-up care, but even women with more complex problems tend to have healthy pregnancies and . “

Learn more about five common health conditions that are often a factor in high-risk pregnancies and ways to manage them to ensure successful pregnancy and childbirth.

1. Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., approximately 1% to 2% of pregnant women have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In addition, approximately 6% to 9% of pregnant women they develop gestational diabetes, a type diagnosed during pregnancy that usually dissipates after childbirth.

High sugar during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or obesity by women and increases the chance of giving birth to the baby by cesarean section. There is also an increased risk of birth defects, premature birth, stillbirth and macrosomia, a condition in which the baby is born much older than normal.

To help control diabetes during pregnancy, Waters emphasizes the importance of consulting with your doctor as soon as you decide to become pregnant (or even earlier, since half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned).

“Your doctor can help you monitor your blood sugar levels and adjust your medications as needed,” he says. “They can also check for and treat other health-related complications due to diabetes, such as eye, heart or kidney disease, which can also affect pregnancy.”

Other recommended practices to consider before becoming pregnant include following a healthy meal plan, staying active, and taking insulin as directed by your doctor.

2. Obesity

In the United States, one-third of women are obese and there are 1.1 million obese pregnant women research published in the National Library of Medicine of the United States National Institutes of Health. And those numbers continue to grow.

Pregnant and obese women tend to have longer jobs and their providers may have difficulty controlling the baby during labor. This can increase the likelihood of having a cesarean section. Being obese during pregnancy can also lead to other health problems, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), and sleep apnea.

And babies of overweight pregnant women may be at risk for birth defects, macrosomia, premature birth and stillbirth.

Waters stresses that losing weight before getting pregnant can help decrease the risk of problems caused by obesity.

“By exercising regularly and working with a dietitian, you can help improve your overall health and pave the way for a healthier pregnancy,” she says.

3. High blood pressure

High blood pressure occurs in one in 12 pregnancies among women ages 20 to 44 in the United States, according to the CDC.

The most common problem for women with high blood pressure is related to baby growth or restriction of intrauterine growth, which can contribute to an increased risk of death.

In addition, women with a history of high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition that can lead to complications for both mother and baby. Studies reported that preeclampsia occurs in approximately one in 25 pregnancies.

“Most women who are at risk for preeclampsia will not have a serious case, but the unpredictability and fear of what can happen is difficult,” Waters says. “Your providers can help you navigate high blood pressure and associated problems.”

If you are pregnant and have high blood pressure, Waters notes that your healthcare team will closely monitor and monitor your overall health, including a history of high blood pressure, medications, and other medical conditions, to help control the effects.

4. Age

A pregnancy that occurs later in life can affect the baby’s health, such as poor baby growth and genetic problems, with Down syndrome being the most common.

And according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the risk of having a pregnancy affected by Down syndrome is one in 353 for 35-year-old women.

“As a woman gets older, the eggs they are born with also age. And every year there is a greater chance that the baby will have genetic problems,” Waters says. “But there are ways to help us assess and assess this risk, such as working with a genetic counselor before planning to get pregnant.”

Women over the age of 35 are more likely to develop other complications of pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and or preeclampsia. For women under 35, there may be a possibility of a high-risk pregnancy, but Waters says it depends on the different risk factors of each woman.

“Even if the mother has no relevant problems or background, there is still a small risk that a baby will have a genetic problem or an underlying structural problem or other concern with the baby that could make the pregnancy high risk.” , he says.

With the participation of high-risk pregnancy services, such as prenatal care and testing, screening and genetic counseling, and birth and delivery planning, Waters notes that most “Regardless of his age,” he will have no health complications.

5. Epilepsy

A common misconception in the past has been that women who have epilepsy cannot have a healthy pregnancy because it would have too high a risk. “That’s just not true these days,” says Adriana Bermeo-Ovalle, MD, a Rush neurologist who specializes in caring for women who have epilepsy.

In fact, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, more than 90% of women with epilepsy who become pregnant have healthy babies.

Another concern for women with epilepsy is the management of seizures during pregnancy, which can cause risks to the baby, such as severe trauma, hypoxemia (a low level of oxygen in the blood), fetal injuries, intrauterine growth , a premature birth and loss of pregnancy.

However, recent research shows that with proper care of prenatal epilepsy there is no increased risk of seizures during pregnancy or immediate postpartum. “This is amazing news for our patients with epilepsy and families,” Bermeo adds.

She recommends working closely with a specialized team of epilepsy providers who can provide guidance on drug interactions and changes in hormone levels and metabolism, to help you control seizures before, during, and after pregnancy.

“Much progress has been made and we now have more options to help with epilepsy having healthy, normal pregnancies and babies, “Bermeo says.” And seeing happy mothers enjoying their family life is one of the most rewarding results we can have as providers. ”


Changing the definition of hypertension may identify higher-risk pregnancies


More information:
Adriana Bermeo-Ovalle, As a mother, As a child. Maintain seizure control during pregnancy, Currents of epilepsy (2021). DOI: 10.1177 / 15357597211012026

Citation: 5 Conditions That May Affect a Pregnancy (2021, June 7) Retrieved June 7, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-conditions-affect-pregnancy.html

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