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High-Risk Pregnancy 

A high-risk pregnancy can threaten the lives of both the mother and the child. 

A pregnancy is considered to be high-risk if it threatens the life or the health of the pregnant woman or her child. Some of the complications that can occur throughout the course of a pregnancy include: 

  • Abnormal positioning of the placenta 
  • Birth defects involving the brain, the spine or the spinal cord (neural tube defects) 
  • Fetal growth restriction 
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • Preeclampsia 
  • Premature labor 
  • Preterm birth 
  • Rhesus (Rh) sensitization 
  • Stillbirth 

Causes of High-Risk Pregnancy 

There are a number of factors that can increase a woman’s likelihood of having a high-risk pregnancy, including: 

  • Being a teenager or over the age of 35 
  • Carrying more than one child at one time 
  • Being underweight or overweight before conceiving 
  • Having diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure (hypertension), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thyroid disease, certain infections or poorly controlled asthma 
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Using illegal drugs 
  • Having a history of pregnancy complications 

All pregnant women should consult with a physician as soon as possible after learning that they’re expecting. It’s especially important for women who have any of the risk factors listed above to do so, since receiving prenatal care early in a pregnancy and regularly thereafter can lower the risk of complications developing. 

Symptoms of High-Risk Pregnancy 

Symptoms will vary depending on the specific complications that occur during a high-risk pregnancy. For example, while gestational diabetes can sometimes lead to increased urine output, preeclampsia can cause decreased urine output, along with numerous other symptoms. 

Diagnosing High-Risk Pregnancy 

Physicians use a variety of tests to diagnose issues that arise during the course of a high-risk pregnancy, including: 

  • Blood tests 
  • Invasive genetic screening 
  • Prenatal cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening 
  • Ultrasounds 
  • Urine tests 

Treatment for High-Risk Pregnancy 

Treatment for a high-risk pregnancy generally involves monitoring the health of the woman and her child on a regular basis and promptly addressing any issues that arise during the gestational period. High-risk pregnancies often require highly individualized treatment, and the specialists at Tampa General Hospital will make treatment recommendations that are tailored to your specific needs.