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What makes a Pregnancy High Risk?

Pregnancy is a time of joy and expectation. But for some, especially those with chronic medical conditions or who are expecting multiples, pregnancy can also be a time of fear and uncertainty. With the right specialized care,  both mother and child can ensure a more positive, healthy experience.

Five-ten percent of pregnancies are termed "high risk." A pregnancy is "high risk" or "complicated" when the life or health of the mother or baby may be at risk. It is estimated that approximately one out of every four pregnant women will experience complications this year, sometimes leading to the birth of a premature baby. When babies are born preterm, they have a higher risk for serious health problems.

Families can cope more successfully with a high-risk pregnancy with appropriate medical intervention, education, and a strong support system. In fact, many risk factors can be identified even before conception occurs.

Following are some factors that may lead to a a high-risk pregnancy:

  • Being over 35
  • Being pregnant with more than one baby
  • Complications with previous pregnancies
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Hypertension
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Thyroid Conditions
  • Neurologic Conditions
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

A high-risk pregnancy diagnosis shouldn't automatically be perceived as negative. With the proper pre-natal care, 90-95% of  these pregnancies produce healthy, viable babies. When problems are detected early, the better the chances that both mother and baby will stay healthy. Virginia Hospital Center's Maternal-Fetal Medicine department has leading physicians in this area. 

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Maternal Fetal Medicine

1701 N. George Mason Drive | Arlington, VA 22205-3698 | tel 703.558.5000
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