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High-Risk Pregnancy Care

Identifying potential risks of a pregnancy is an important part of preconception care. Some women have increased chances of having a high-risk pregnancy because of genetic background, existing medical conditions, their lifestyle, or factors that may develop with the pregnancy.

The OB/GYN Physicians at Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center care for women at each stage, providing support toward a healthy pregnancy, high-risk pregnancy care, annual wellness checks and menopausal management.

We work closely with the team of experts at the Methodist Perinatal Center, a full-service consultation, testing and treatment center for high-risk pregnancies that is accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.

Pregnancy risk factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Mother is younger than 18 years old or older than 35
  • Mother is underweight or overweight for height
  • Mother has anemia (low red blood cell count) and poor nutrition status
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Previously given birth more than four times
  • Previous preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation)
  • Previous birth of a very large or very small baby
  • Previous pregnancy loss
  • Family history of genetic disease or previous baby with a birth defect
  • Substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs)
  • Pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
  • Infertility medications or treatments (more likely to result in multiple births)

Certain medical conditions may complicate a pregnancy. However, with proper medical care, most women can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, despite their medical challenges.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when diabetic symptoms appear during pregnancy in a woman who has not previously been diagnosed with diabetes. In most cases, all diabetic symptoms disappear following delivery.

Treatment for gestational diabetes will focus on keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range and will be determined by your OB/GYN or midwife. It may include a special diet, exercise, daily blood glucose monitoring or insulin injections.

Gestational Hypertension/Preeclampsia

High blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is called gestational hypertension. Also known as toxemia or preeclampsia, it often occurs in young women with a first pregnancy. It is more common in twin pregnancies, and in women who had blood pressure problems in a previous pregnancy.

Women with preeclampsia may need bed rest. Moderate or severe preeclampsia or eclampsia usually require hospitalization and medications.

High blood pressure can lead to placental complications and slowed fetal growth. If untreated, severe hypertension may cause dangerous seizures and even death in the mother and fetus.

Infections

Infections during pregnancy can pose a threat to the fetus and should be treated immediately. An infection that goes untreated can lead to preterm labor and rupture of the membranes surrounding the fetus.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth and is the only known cause of mental retardation that is completely preventable.

Smoking

Although fewer women today are smoking during their pregnancy, the habit still persists. According to the FDA, if a woman quits smoking early in her pregnancy, she increases her chance of delivering a healthy baby.

Illegal Drugs

A mother taking illegal drugs during pregnancy increases her risk for anemia, blood and heart infections, skin infections, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases and the effects of illegal drugs can be devastating on a fetus.

Prescribed Medications

Women who take medications for preexisting medical conditions, such as epilepsy or high blood pressure, should always check with their OB/GYN or midwife about those medications.