A high-risk pregnancy is one that threatens the health or life of the mother or her fetus.
For most women, early and regular prenatal care promotes a healthy pregnancy and delivery without complications. But some women are at an increased risk for complications even before they get pregnant for a variety of reasons.
Risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy can include:
- Existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or being HIV-positive.
- Overweight and obesity. Obesity increases the risk for high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, stillbirth, neural tube defects, and cesarean delivery.
- Multiple births. The risk of complications is higher in women carrying more than one fetus (twins and higher-order multiples).
- Young or old maternal age. Pregnancy in teens and women aged 35 or over increases the risk for preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure.
- Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta covers the cervix. The condition can cause bleeding, especially if a woman has contractions
Women with high-risk pregnancies should receive care from a special team of health care providers to ensure that their pregnancies are healthy and that they can carry their infant or infants to term.