Health Information

High-Risk Pregnancy

  • Digestive and Liver Disorders Overview
  • Maternal and Fetal Testing Overview
  • Maternal and Fetal Infections Overview
  • First Trimester Screening

    Screening during the first trimester is a combination of ultrasound and two blood tests. These tests can help determine the risk of certain birth defects.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)/Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

    HIV can be passed to a child when he or she is in the mother's womb or as the infant passes through the birth canal. The virus has also been detected in breast milk.

  • Anemia in Pregnancy

    Doctor appointments and baby showers aren’t the only things that can tucker you out when you’re pregnant. Anemia is a condition that also can make you feel fatigued. Find out what you need to know to safeguard yourself.

  • Amniocentesis

    Detailed information on amniocentesis, including potential risks and benefits

  • Amniotic Fluid Problems/Hydramnios/Oligohydramnios

    Too much or too little amniotic fluid around the fetus can cause problems. These include preterm labor, birth defects, and underdeveloped lungs in the fetus.

  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome (aPL)

    This disease can have serious effects in pregnancy, both for the mother and the baby. These include strokes, blood clots, and recurrent miscarriage.

  • Autoimmune Diseases

    Detailed information on autoimmune diseases and pregnancy

  • Myasthenia Gravis and Pregnancy

    Pregnant women with MG often have more weakness and fatigue because of the added weight and effort of pregnancy. Preterm labor (labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is more likely.

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, or Lupus) and Pregnancy

    Lupus can affect pregnancy at any stage. It is not clear whether the severity of the disease or the type of medication causes problems.

  • Bleeding in Pregnancy/Placenta Previa/Placental Abruption

    Bleeding may occur at various times in pregnancy. Although bleeding is alarming, it may or may not be a serious complication.

  • Biophysical Profile (BPP)

    A biophysical profile is a test that combines a nonstress test with ultrasound. It's usually performed in the last trimester.

  • Heart Disease and Pregnancy

    In pregnancy, blood volume increases greatly. This extra fluid puts an increased workload on the heart and may cause problems for a woman with heart disease.

  • Cholestasis of Pregnancy

    Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition in which the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder is slowed or stopped resulting in itching and jaundice.

  • Chorioamnionitis

    Chorioamnionitis is an infection of the membranes and amniotic fluid. It occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies, but is much more common in preterm births.

  • Chorionic Villus Sampling

    Detailed information on chorionic villus sampling, including potential risks and benefits

  • Doppler Flow Studies

    Doppler flow is a type of ultrasound that measures the flow of blood through a blood vessel. Doppler flow studies may be used to assess blood flow in the umbilical blood vein and arteries, fetal brain, and fetal heart.

  • Diabetes and Pregnancy

    It's important for a woman with diabetes to keep her blood sugar under tight control while she's pregnant.

  • Digestive and Liver Disorders

    Detailed information on digestive and liver disorders during pregnancy

  • Ectopic Pregnancy

    Ectopic pregnancies nearly always occur in the fallopian tube. Rarely, an ectopic pregnancy will be located in an ovary or in the cervix, or even in the abdomen.

  • Fetal Blood Sampling

    Fetal blood sampling is a procedure to remove a small amount of blood from the fetus during pregnancy. It may be taken to diagnose problems or an infection.

  • Fetal Monitoring

    Detailed information on fetal monitoring, including potential risks and benefits

  • Fetal Movement Counting

    Fetal movement counting, often called kick counting, is a way a mother can help monitor the movements of her unborn baby by counting the number of kicks in a certain time period.

  • Genetics

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

  • HELLP Syndrome

    HELLP syndrome is a serious complication of severe pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. It usually develops before delivery, but 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.

  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum

    Vomiting—especially during the first trimester—is normal for many women during pregnancy. Constantly vomiting is not. Take action to prevent a serious complication.

  • Chronic Hypertension

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

  • Hyperthyroidism in Pregnancy

    Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism has many effects. It may lead to preterm birth and low birthweight. It may also bring on pregnancy-induced high bloo pressure.

  • Home Page - High-Risk Pregnancy

    Detailed information on high-risk pregnancy

  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

    Newborn babies with this condition often appear thin, pale, and have loose, dry skin. The umbilical cord is often thin and dull-looking rather than shiny and fat.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy

    Acute fatty liver of pregnancy is a rare, but serious, condition of pregnancy in which there is an excessive accumulation of fat in the liver or liver cells.

  • Overview of Pregnancy Loss

    Pregnancy loss occurs in more than half of early pregnancies. Most of these occur so early that the mother does not even know she is pregnant.

  • Pregnancy Loss

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

  • The Lungs in Pregnancy

    Detailed anatomical information on the respiratory system in pregnancy

  • 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 Infections

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Epilepsy and Pregnancy

    Epilepsy and the medications to treat it can have affect the mother, the pregnancy, and the fetus and newborn. Fortunately, most women are able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

  • Neurological Conditions and Pregnancy

    Detailed information on neurologic conditions in pregnancy

  • Migraine Headache

    Many women experience 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.

  • Nonstress Testing

    Detailed information on nonstress testing

  • Nutrition Before Pregnancy

    You need about 300 extra calories a day 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

  • 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 three decades.

  • Pregnancy Complications

    Detailed information on the most common complications during pregnancy

  • Pregnancy and Medical Conditions

    Detailed information on pregnancy and medical conditions

  • Gestational Hypertension

    Pregnancy-induced hypertension is also called toxemia or preeclampsia. It occurs most often in young women with a first pregnancy.

  • Postpartum Hemorrhage

    Postpartum hemorrhage is excessive bleeding after the birth of a baby. Most postpartum hemorrhage occurs right after delivery, but it can occur later as well.

  • Post-Term Pregnancy

    A pregnancy that lasts more than 42 weeks is considered post-term. Post-term pregnancy is associated with longer labors and the need for cesarean delivery.

  • Preconception Care

    Detailed information on preconception care

  • Prenatal Counseling

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

  • Risk Factors

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

  • Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM)/Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM)

    Rupture of the membranes near the end of pregnancy may be caused by a natural weakening of the membranes or from the force of contractions.

  • Preterm Labor

    Preterm birth is the greatest problem associated with preterm labor. Although most babies are born after 37 weeks, those born preterm are at increased risks for many complications.

  • Rh Disease

    Rh disease occurs during pregnancy when there is an incompatibility between the blood types of the mother and baby.

  • Sickle Cell Disease and Pregnancy

    Whether it’s your first or third trimester, you’re likely to face changes to your sleep habits while pregnant. Discover what it takes to feel rested no matter what stage you’re in.

  • Topic Index - High-Risk Pregnancy

    Detailed information on high-risk pregnancy

  • Stillbirth

    Stillbirth is a common term for death of a baby while still in the uterus. Common causes are high blood pressure or infection in the mother, or placental or cord problems.

  • Thyroid Conditions

    Detailed information on thyroid conditions and 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.

  • Types of Genetic Diseases

    Genetic diseases are classified by type: chromosomal abnormalities, single gene defects, problems caused by exposure to certain substances, or a combination of these.

  • Ultrasound in Pregnancy

    Detailed information on ultrasound and the potential risks and benefits

  • Care and Management of Multiple Pregnancy

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)

    Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a pregnant woman has elevated glucose levels and other symptoms of diabetes—but did not have diabetes before she became pregnant.

  • 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.

  • Medical Conditions and Pregnancy

    With proper medical care, most women can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, despite medical challenges such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

  • Medications and Pregnancy

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

  • Multiple Pregnancy

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

  • Overview of Multiple Pregnancy

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

  • 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 Thyroiditis

    Postpartum thyroiditis is a temporary but fairly common condition that results in either an overactive or underactive thyroid.

  • Asthma and Pregnancy

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

  • Smoking and Pregnancy

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

  • Symptoms and Diagnosis of Multiple Pregnancy

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

  • Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy

    Pregnancy does not appear to speed up the course or worsen the effects of MS. Some studies have found that MS symptoms decrease in pregnancy and increase after delivery.

  • 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.

  • 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.