EXCLUSIVE: Top 7 factors contributing to high risk pregnancy according to an expert

Updated on Sep 08, 2021 07:49 AM IST  |  50.2K
EXCLUSIVE: Top 7 factors contributing to high-risk pregnancy according to an expert

Not all pregnancy cases are the same and smooth. Some women experience difficulties while conceiving and delivering. On the other hand, several women who begin a normal pregnancy may develop health conditions that put them at high risk, also known as a high-risk pregnancy.

A high-risk pregnancy is associated with complications that threaten the life of the mother and her baby. According to the National Health Portal of India, about 20 to 30 per cent of pregnancies in India belong to the high-risk category, which is responsible for 75 per cent of perinatal morbidity and mortality. However, early detection of its causes and proper management of the high-risk pregnancy can contribute immensely to a healthy fetus development and a mother’s well-being.  

Major risk factors that a high-risk pregnancy include are:
Uterus abnormalities
Structural problems in the uterus lead to a high risk of miscarriage. In some cases, it also becomes the cause of recurrent miscarriages. Additionally, some types of uterine malformations increase the risk of miscarriages and require specialised treatment. In some women, uterine malformations are present from birth while some develop during their adulthood. Most often, women do not even experience any symptoms of malformations before their pregnancy.

Women over age 35
As women age, the chances of having a normal pregnancy minimize. This is mainly because of several underlying conditions like developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or high blood pressure. When these conditions intervene, they can create complications in pregnancy. As a result, it becomes important to keep these conditions under control to avoid the chances of miscarriage, poor fetal growth or birth defect.

Women under age 20
Women under 20 significantly experience more complications in pregnancy that put them under the high-risk pregnancy category. Mothers under 20 are more prone to deliver a premature or underweight baby. The major risk factors contributing to the chances of high-risk pregnancy in women under 20 include the underdeveloped pelvis, nutritional deficiencies and high blood pressure.

Being underweight or overweight, both conditions can lead to high-risk pregnancy. Women who are obese are at a higher risk of delivering babies with birth defects. Additionally, they are more likely to develop the symptoms of gestational diabetes during their term. As a result, the chances of preeclampsia increase. On the other hand, underweight women are more likely to deliver premature or underweight babies.

Pregnancy in diabetic women increases the chances of complications during the entire term or delivery. It increases the risk of developing birth defects in babies and can even cause health concerns for mothers. If a woman is diabetic and planning to conceive, she should consult a doctor from the earlier stage itself. This will help in controlling blood sugar levels for safe delivery.

Sexually Transmitted disorders
Sexually transmitted infections are contagious and pregnant women who do not get it screened at the right time are likely to transmit it to their babies. For instance- an HIV-positive woman can transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding. This increases the chances of high-risk pregnancy and they are recommended to take specialised treatment for HIV. Furthermore, an HIV-negative mother with an HIV-positive partner should consult a doctor before planning their pregnancy or during the initial most stage of the pregnancy.   

Pre-existing medical conditions
Pre-existing medical conditions are common in high-risk pregnancies. For instance – PCOD, a polycystic ovary disorder with hormonal imbalances causes irregular periods and disrupts the proper functioning of ovaries. Pregnant women with PCOS usually have a higher risk of miscarriage, premature delivery or chances of developing gestational diabetes. Apart from this, women with kidney disease, thyroid, asthma, uterine fibroids or any other condition should consult a doctor before planning pregnancy.

While there are several factors contributing to high-risk pregnancy, many women can manage it with lifestyle and dietary changes. To ensure a normal pregnancy, it is important for women to speak with a specialised doctor about their medical conditions to reduce any major risks during delivery.

About the author: Dr. Pooja Choudhary, MBBS & MD(KGMC), FICOG, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology, Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital – Nehru Place, Delhi NCR.

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