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Originally posted by Amber_5/11/05@Dec 17 2004, 10:57 AM I have just a question: what exactly makes a female a high risk mother? Are there certain STD's or genetic diseases that can boost a woman to high risk status? Anyone who knows please help me out on this because I am 19 and this is my first pregnancy and I am really nervous about this topic
For many women, pregnancy is a time of unparalleled joy and expectation. But for others, especially those with chronic medical conditions or who are expecting multiples, pregnancy can be a time of intense fear and uncertainty. In those instances, both mother and child need specialized care to ensure good health.
Some five to ten percent of pregnancies are termed “high risk.” A pregnancy is “high risk” or “complicated” when the life or health of the mother or baby may be at risk. It is estimated that approximately one out of every four pregnant women will experience complications this year, sometimes leading to the birth of a premature baby. When babies are born preterm, they have a higher risk for serious health problems.
Families can cope more successfully with a high-risk pregnancy with appropriate medical intervention, education, and a strong support system. In fact, many risk factors can be identified even before conception occurs.
Maternal age is one factor that contributes to pregnancy risks. The chances of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or diabetes in the mother and abnormal development of the baby increase with the mother’s age. The mother’s height and weight are factors, also. Women who weigh less than 100 pounds are likely to deliver underweight babies. Those who are overweight put themselves at risk for gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Women with chronic medical conditions, such as lupus, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis, are all at risk for complicated pregnancies. Also, a family history of mental retardation or birth defects can indicate a high-risk pregnancy. Likewise, women who have experienced miscarriages, pre-term deliveries, stillbirths, or neonatal deaths need specialized care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth.
While family history is beyond anyone’s control, there are many factors that a woman can control to have a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby. Cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse put mother and child at risk, but are factors which can be controlled.
Smoking commonly leads to low birth weight. More severe complications include spontaneous abortions, congenital heart defects, and premature births. A mother’s alcohol consumption can cause her child to have severe behavioral problems, and in some cases, mental retardation. Drug abuse is not only dangerous for a mother’s health, but also can cause premature birth, stunted growth, mental retardation and/or drug addiction in her baby. It is important not to expose an unborn child to harmful substances while in the womb.
A high-risk pregnancy diagnosis shouldn’t automatically have a negative connotation. With proper care, 90 to 95 percent of high-risk pregnancies produce healthy, viable babies. The earlier a problem is detected, the better the chances that both mother and baby will stay healthy. It is important to remember, however, that not all conditions can be diagnosed, and some pregnancies begin normally, but develop problems later. Make sure you schedule regular visits with your doctor, before and after becoming pregnant.[/b]
High risk doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong, it just means there is potential there and they want to keep a close eye on you. There are several factors that could contribute. One is age. If your a teenage mother or over 35 you may undergo extra tests and they will watch you closely. Not sure if 19 would qualify for that. I don't know that they actually catergorize you as high risk, but they treat you a little differently. I'll be getting more tests since I'm over 35. Any existing condition you may have, like if your a diabetic or an epileptic would catergorize you as high risk. As far as VD, I think it would depend which ones. herpes is not considered high risk, though you may be encouraged to have a c-sect to make sure you don't pass it to the baby. HIV would probably be, but I would think the others wouldn't be cause they can be treated. Experience with previous pregnancies, such as premature birth or other conditions may catergorize you. These are the main ones. you can probably do some research on line and find many more. Are you concerned about yourself? Do you have a prexisting condition? Don't be embarrased or afraid to ask if you do. No one will judge you and we'd be very happy to help if we can.
Linda, mommy to Nikolas & Andrew, 5 year old twin boys and Ember Rose, almost 3.
A lot of people aren't classified immediately as high risk with a first pregnancy (unless the dr. sees something that needs to be watched). For example, I am considered high risk because of a problem that I had when I was pregnant with my son and it (or other similar problems) could show up in future pregnancies.
As Rani posted, a lot of things can contribute to your risk factor. I would definitely quit smoking/drinking, etc if that is something you've been doing. Other things, like family history obviously can't be changed. Make sure you're eating right and gaining enough weight.
Oh, and don't stress As I've been told so many times about so many things, "There's no problem, until you find out there's a problem"
That being said, if you have something specific taht is worrying you. Don't hesitate to ask. *hugs*