A common thought amongst many people in New York City may be that the advances witnessed in medical science in recent years have removed all of the risks typically associated with pregnancy. However, the complexities of the human body (along with external factors that can influence prenatal growth and development) sometimes ensure that a woman’s pregnancy may be difficult regardless of any intervention. Such cases are defined as “high-risk pregnancies.”
The National Institutes of Health reports that there are four factors which contribute to high-risk pregnancies:
- Preexisting health conditions: Hypertension, diabetes, infertility issues, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and cases of kidney, thyroid and autoimmune disease have all been linked to pregnancy complications.
- Age: Complications are inherently more frequent in teen mothers and women over 35 who are experiencing their first pregnancy.
- Lifestyle choices: Drinking and smoking both have been shown to contribute to issues with pregnancy.
- Pregnancy conditions: Women who develop gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, as well as those carrying multiple babies, are at an increased risk of complicated prenatal periods and deliveries.
Does this mean that any women who fall into the aforementioned risk factor categories should avoid getting pregnant? Of course not. If doctors are able to identify those risk factors, steps can be taken to mitigate them and complete a pregnancy without the mother or baby experiencing any harm. The American Pregnancy Association lists some of the steps that doctors can take to be encouraging healthier lifestyles, increasing the frequency of prenatal care appointments, and even referring expectant to mothers to maternal fetal medicine specialists.
To mitigate risk factors, however, doctors must first identify them. Expecting mothers can help with this by being active participants in their care, yet ultimately, it falls to prenatal care providers to identify high-risk scenarios.