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Diseases & Conditions : High-Risk Pregnancy

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    • Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy

      AFLP is a rare, but serious, liver problem in pregnancy. With AFLP the liver cells have too much fat, which can damage the liver.

    • Alcohol and Pregnancy

      Alcohol consumption by the mother is a leading cause of preventable birth defects in the fetus. In addition, the risk for miscarriage and stillbirth increases with alcohol consumption.

    • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)

      Alpha-fetoprotein screening is a blood test that measures the level of AFP in the mothers' blood. Abnormal levels may indicate certain problems with the fetus.

    • Amniocentesis

      Detailed information on amniocentesis, including potential risks and benefits

    • Anemia in Pregnancy

      Anemia is when your blood has too few red blood cells. Having too few red blood cells makes it harder for your blood to carry oxygen or iron. This can affect how cells work in nerves and muscles. During pregnancy, your baby also needs your blood.

    • Antiphospholipid Syndrome in Pregnancy

      Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disease. This happens when your immune system fights against normal cells. This condition may also be called Hughes syndrome, sticky blood syndrome, and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.

    • Asthma and Pregnancy

      With proper asthma management and good prenatal care, most women with asthma can have healthy pregnancies.

    • Autoimmune Diseases and Pregnancy

      Detailed information on autoimmune diseases and pregnancy

    • Biophysical Profile

      A biophysical profile is a test that is sometimes used during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is often done if there is a question about the baby’s health. This may be because of other test results or certain pregnancy symptoms, or because your pregnancy is high risk.

    • Care and Management of Multiple Pregnancy

      A woman with a multiple pregnancy needs more calories and nutrients, more frequent prenatal visits, and more rest.

    • Cholestasis of Pregnancy

      Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver problem. It slows or stops the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder. This causes itching and yellowing of your skin, eyes, and mucous membranes (jaundice). Cholestasis sometimes starts in early pregnancy. But it is more common in the second and third trimesters. It most often goes away within a few days after delivery. The high levels of bile may cause serious problems for your developing baby (fetus).

    • Chorioamnionitis

      Chorioamnionitis [chor-y-oh-am-nee-oh-NY-tis] is an infection of the placenta and the amniotic fluid. Only a few women get it, but, it is a common cause of preterm labor and delivery.

    • Chorionic Villus Sampling

      Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a test done early in a woman’s pregnancy. CVS checks for genetic problems in your baby. During CVS, your healthcare provider takes a small piece of tissue from the placenta for testing.

    • Chronic Hypertension and Pregnancy

      When a woman has pre-existing hypertension or develops hypertension before the 20th week of pregnancy, this is called chronic hypertension.

    • Complications of Multiple Pregnancy

      Having more than one baby is especially exciting—and complicated. Find out what to watch for, including a greater chance of anemia and preterm birth.

    • Diabetes During Pregnancy

      Diabetes is a condition in which the body can't make enough insulin, or can't use insulin normally. Insulin is a hormone. It helps sugar (glucose) in the blood get into cells of the body to be used as fuel. When glucose can’t enter the cells, it builds up in the blood. This is called high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

    • Digestive and Liver Disorders

      Detailed information on digestive and liver disorders during pregnancy

    • Digestive and Liver Disorders Overview
    • Doppler Flow Study

      Doppler flow is a type of ultrasound. It uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel. The results are shown on a computer screen in lines called waveforms. It’s sometimes called Doppler velocimetry. A Doppler flow study may be used during pregnancy to check the health of the unborn baby (fetus).

    • Ectopic Pregnancy

      A pregnancy that develops outside the uterus is called ectopic pregnancy. This nearly always happens in a fallopian tube. So it’s often called tubal pregnancy. Rarely, an ectopic pregnancy will happen in an ovary, in the cervix, or the belly (abdomen).

    • Epilepsy During Pregnancy

      Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system. It is also called a seizure disorder. Normally the body's nerves send information by electrical and chemical signals. People with epilepsy have abnormal electrical signals in the brain. This can cause a seizure. Seizures can cause severe shaking of muscles. Or they may be very mild with hardly any symptoms at all.

    • Fetal Blood Sampling

      Fetal blood sampling is a procedure to take a small amount of blood from an unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. Fetal blood sampling is usually done by a perinatologist with special training. This is a doctor who specializes in the care of babies in high-risk pregnancies.

    • Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR)

      Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition in which an unborn baby (fetus) is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). It is often described as an estimated weight less than the 10th percentile. This means that the baby weighs less than 9 out of 10 babies of the same gestational age. Newborn babies with FGR may be called “small for gestational age.”

    • Fetal Monitoring

      In pregnancy and during labor, your doctor will want to check the health of your unborn baby (fetus). This is done by check the baby’s heart rate and other functions. Monitoring can be done on the outside of your belly (external monitoring). Or it may be done directly on the baby while inside the womb (internal monitoring). Fetal monitoring is a very common procedure.

    • Fetal Movement Counting

      Fetal movement counting is a way to check the health of a woman’s unborn baby (fetus). It’s often called kick counting. It’s done by counting the number of kicks you feel from your baby in the womb in a certain time period.

    • First Trimester Screening

      First trimester screening combines fetal ultrasound and blood tests for the mother. It’s done during the first trimester of pregnancy, during weeks 1 to 12 or 13. It can help find out the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects.

    • Genetics

      Genetics is the study of the patterns of inheritance - how traits and characteristics are passed from parents to their children.

    • Gestational Diabetes

      Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that happens during pregnancy. The symptoms of gestational diabetes usually go away after delivery. But sometimes they do not, or you may develop type 2 diabetes later.

    • Gestational Hypertension

      Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 3 in 50 pregnancies.

    • Glossary - High-Risk Pregnancy

      Glossary of terms relating to high-risk pregnancy

    • Graves Disease in Pregnancy

      Graves disease is a condition where the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. This is called hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy.

    • HELLP Syndrome

      HELLP syndrome is a rare but life-threatening condition in pregnancy. It causes red cells in the blood to break down. It also causes problems with the liver, bleeding, and blood pressure. It is often linked with preeclampsia and eclampsia. It often develops before delivery. But it may also occur after delivery.

    • Herpes

      It is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy, because a first episode during pregnancy creates a greater risk of transmission to the newborn.

    • HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy

      A mother with HIV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding.

    • Home Page - High-Risk Pregnancy

      Detailed information on high-risk pregnancy

    • Hydramnios

      In this condition, there is too much amniotic fluid around your baby during pregnancy. It happens in about 1 in 100 pregnancies.

    • Hyperemesis Gravidarum

      Many pregnant women have some nausea and sometimes vomiting in the first trimester. A few pregnant women have a severe kind of nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum. These women often lose weight, and get dehydrated. They may also have changes in the body's chemical processes.

    • Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy

      Signs of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) may be masked by pregnancy. But the thyroid is important for your baby’s brain development. Learn if you should be screened for hypothyroidism.

    • Illegal Drug Use and Pregnancy

      Almost every drug passes from the mother's bloodstream through the placenta to the fetus. Illicit substances that cause drug dependence and addiction in the mother also cause the fetus to become addicted.

    • Listeriosis

      You’ve probably been warned not to eat brie cheese or order your steak cooked to anything less than medium. Why do you have to take these precautions? Listeriosis. Learn more about this food-borne illness and how to avoid it.

    • Lupus and Pregnancy

      Many women with lupus give birth to healthy children. The key to a successful pregnancy is know how lupus affects your body.

    • Maternal and Fetal Infections

      In pregnancy, infections are a common complication—but women may not have obvious symptoms, or they may show different symptoms of an infection.

    • Maternal and Fetal Infections Overview

      Treating maternal and fetal infections can be tricky during pregnancy. Learn more about these infections.

    • Maternal and Fetal Testing

      Women with high-risk pregnancies often need a close watch for potential problems or complications. Many tests and procedures are available to monitor the health of both mother and baby.

    • Maternal and Fetal Testing Overview
    • Medical Conditions and Pregnancy

      With proper medical care, most women can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, even with medical challenges, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

    • Medical Genetics: Types of Genetic Changes

      Genetic changes come in two main types: chromosome abnormalities and single-gene defects.

    • Medicines and Pregnancy

      All medicines you take affect the fetus, depending on the stage of development, the type and dosage of the medicine being taken, and your drug tolerance.

    • Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy

      Many women have migraine headaches while pregnant. The good news is that you don’t have to give in to the pain when it strikes. Know what pain-relief options are safest for you.

    • Miscarriage

      Ultrasound is usually used to diagnose miscarriage. If the fetus is no longer in the uterus, or there is no longer a fetal heartbeat, miscarriage is diagnosed.

    • Multiple Pregnancy

      Detailed information on multiple pregnancies, including care of multiple birth babies

    • Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy

      Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system disorder. Pregnancy does not appear to speed up or MS or worsen its effects.

    • Myasthenia Gravis and Pregnancy

      Myasthenia gravis is a complex autoimmune disorder. It causes antibodies to destroy the connections between your muscles and nerves. This causes muscle weakness and tiredness.

    • Neurological Conditions and Pregnancy

      Detailed information on neurologic conditions in pregnancy

    • Newborn Multiples

      Because many multiples are small and born early, they may be initially cared for in a special care nursery called the neonatal intensive care unit.

    • Nonstress Testing

      A nonstress test is a type of test done during pregnancy. It measures the heart rate of the unborn baby (fetus) in response to its movements. In most cases, the heart rate of a healthy baby increases when the baby moves.

    • Nutrition Before Pregnancy

      You need about 300 extra calories a day after the first trimester to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These calories should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains.

    • Online Resources - High-Risk Pregnancy

      List of online resources to find additional information on high-risk pregnancies

    • Overview of Birth Defects

      A "birth defect" is a health problem or physical change that is present in a baby at the time he/she is born.

    • Overview of Multiple Pregnancy

      Multiple pregnancy is a pregnancy with 2 or more fetuses. In the United States, the multiple birth rate is rising.

    • Overview of Pregnancy Loss

      Pregnancy loss is the death of an unborn baby (fetus) at any time during pregnancy. Pregnancy loss may occur in as many as 1 in every 4 pregnancies. Most pregnancy losses happen during the first trimester.

    • Placenta Previa

      Bleeding can happen at any time during pregnancy. Placenta previa can cause bleeding late in pregnancy. This means after about 20 weeks.

    • Planning a Pregnancy

      Planning ahead and taking care of yourself before becoming pregnant is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

    • Postpartum Hemorrhage

      Postpartum hemorrhage is more bleeding than normal after the birth of a baby. About 1 in 100 to 5 in 100 women have postpartum hemorrhage. It is more likely with a cesarean birth. It most often happens after the placenta is delivered, but it can also happen later.

    • Postpartum Thyroiditis

      Postpartum thyroiditis happens when a woman’s thyroid becomes inflamed after having a baby. It may first cause your thyroid to be overactive (hyperthyroidism). But in time it leads to an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). A small percentage of pregnant women get this health problem.

    • Post-Term Pregnancy

      A pregnancy that lasts more than 42 weeks is called post-term. A pregnancy that is between 41 and 42 weeks is called late-term. Most women deliver between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy.

    • Preconception Care

      Detailed information on preconception care

    • Pregnancy and Medical Conditions

      Detailed information on pregnancy and medical conditions

    • Pregnancy and Pre-existing Heart Disease

      Pre-existing heart disease is a heart problem that you had before you got pregnant. This usually means a heart condition that you were born with (congenital). These can include heart problems that may have been fixed. It can also include heart valve issues.

    • Pregnancy and the Nervous System

      Do you know how your nervous system works? This system coordinates all your body’s activities, and chances are it’s functioning normally during your pregnancy. In the rare case that it’s not, here’s what you need to know.

    • Pregnancy Complications

      Detailed information on the most common complications during pregnancy

    • Pregnancy Loss

      Detailed information on pregnancy loss, including types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

    • Pregnancy Over Age 30

      Many women today are waiting until later in life to have children. In the United States, birth rates for women in their 30s are at the highest levels in four decades.

    • Prenatal Counseling

      Detailed information on prenatal diagnosis to detect fetal abnormalities in the womb

    • Preterm Labor

      Preterm labor is labor that starts before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Labor is when the uterus regularly tightens and the cervix starts to thin and open. This lets the baby (fetus) enter the birth canal.

    • Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM)

      Preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is a pregnancy complication. In this condition, the sac (amniotic membrane) surrounding your baby breaks (ruptures) before week 37 of pregnancy. Once the sac breaks, you have an increased risk for infection. You also have a higher chance of having your baby born early.

    • Rh Disease

      Rh disease occurs during pregnancy. It happens when the Rh factors in the mom’s and baby’s blood don’t match. It may also happen if the mom and baby have different blood types.  

    • Risk Factors for Pregnancy

      Detailed information on identifying potential risks of a pregnancy as an important part of preconception care

    • Second Trimester Prenatal Screening Tests

      Screening is usually performed by taking a sample of the mother's blood between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy (16th to 18th is ideal).

    • Sickle Cell Disease and Pregnancy

      How sickle cell disease affects pregnancy depends on whether you have sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait.

    • Smoking and Pregnancy

      Don't smoke during your pregnancy and limit how much time you spend in environments where there is secondhand smoke.

    • Stillbirth

      Stillbirth is a common term for death of a fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

    • Symptoms and Diagnosis of Multiple Pregnancy

      Every pregnant woman feels like she’s getting big, but if you’re pregnant with 2 or more babies, you’ll really be growing fast. Be prepared by learning the signs of a multiple birth.

    • The Lungs in Pregnancy

      Detailed anatomical information on the respiratory system in pregnancy

    • The Lungs in Pregnancy

      Detailed anatomical information on the respiratory system in pregnancy

    • Thyroid Conditions

      Detailed information on thyroid conditions and pregnancy

    • Topic Index - High-Risk Pregnancy

      Detailed information on high-risk pregnancy

    • Toxoplasmosis

      Toxoplasmosis is not only harmful to moms-to-be, but also to their unborn babies. If you haven’t heard of toxoplasmosis, you’ll definitely want to brush up on this new word.

    • Ultrasound in Pregnancy

      Detailed information on ultrasound and the potential risks and benefits

    • Urinary Tract and Kidney Infections

      During pregnancy, the kidney enlarges and the bladder is compressed by the growing uterus. These and other factors make it more likely for a woman to develop a urinary tract infection.