High-Risk Pregnancy Conditions

High-risk pregnancies can be caused by a wide range of conditions, from common health issues like diabetes and high blood pressure, to life-threatening complications that develop during pregnancy, like placenta accreta. The more conditions a woman has, the more complex and higher-risk her pregnancy. And the greater the need for specialized care.

Long-term conditions and symptoms

You may be living with chronic (long-term) conditions and symptoms that can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. We manage all types of chronic conditions and symptoms in high-risk pregnancies, including:

Advanced maternal age: Women over age 35 are more likely to have certain complications and conditions during pregnancy.

Bleeding disorders: Hemophilia and other disorders limit your body’s ability to form blood clots at an injury site, resulting in bleeding that can be mild to severe.

Blood clotting disorders: Blood clots too easily in people with these conditions, leading to excessive blood clotting that can reduce or block proper blood flow.

Cancer: Cancer during pregnancy is rare and usually doesn’t affect a growing baby. You can receive cancer treatment while pregnant, with careful planning and timing with your care team to minimize risk to your baby.

Chronic kidney disease: Damaged kidneys gradually lose the ability to filter blood, causing waste and fluids to build up, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and other issues during pregnancy.

Cystic fibrosis: This genetic disorder damages the lungs and pancreas, causing breathing and digestive problems. Genetic testing can help determine whether your baby is at risk of inheriting cystic fibrosis.

Diabetes: This condition can develop before or during pregnancy (gestational diabetes), and long-term high blood sugar can affect a growing baby, especially early in pregnancy.

Epilepsy and seizures: Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes repeated seizures. A seizure is a surge of the brain’s electrical activity that can affect behavior, movements, feelings or awareness.

Heart disease: Women may have congenital (present at birth) heart conditions or conditions that develop later in life, with mild to complex symptoms. Health changes during pregnancy can increase the stress on your heart and blood vessels.

High blood pressure: Women may have high blood pressure before pregnancy, and it can lead to serious health problems during pregnancy.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD involves long-term inflammation in the digestive tract. Prepregnancy planning is important for timing conception during a remission, because active IBD at conception tends to remain active during pregnancy.

Lupus and scleroderma: These autoimmune diseases, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, cause inflammation and damage organs.

Thyroid disease: The thyroid gland may produce too much or too little thyroid hormones, which control many key body functions, such as metabolism and heart rate. They also help develop your baby’s nervous system, so it’s important to maintain healthy levels of thyroid hormones during pregnancy.

Conditions and symptoms that develop during pregnancy

Some conditions and symptoms occur during pregnancy or are related to pregnancy. We evaluate you and your baby, monitor you closely and provide treatment to manage these conditions through delivery and beyond:

Genetic disorders: Your baby may be at risk of inheriting or developing genetic disorders that could affect their growth and development. Genetic testing can help determine your baby’s likely risk.

History of preterm labor and birth: A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, and preterm or premature labor is labor that starts before 37 weeks. Preterm labor can lead to preterm or premature birth, putting the baby at risk of serious, lifelong health issues.

Infectious diseases: Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites can affect your and your baby’s health during pregnancy and sometimes later in life. Examples include chickenpox, COVID-19, hepatitis, malaria and Zika virus.

Multiples pregnancy: Pregnancies with two or more babies have a greater risk of complications than a single pregnancy.

Placenta accreta spectrum (PAS): The placenta may grow too deeply into the uterus wall, so it doesn’t separate easily after delivery. PAS can lead to premature birth and life-threatening vaginal bleeding during delivery.

Placenta previa: The placenta extends over the cervix (canal that connects the uterus to the vagina), which can cause heavy bleeding late in pregnancy or during labor and delivery.

Preeclampsia: This condition is high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy or after delivery. Preeclampsia affects blood flow to your organs, which can damage them and impair their function.

Previous cesarean delivery: Women who have had a C-section may face increased complication risks in future pregnancies.

Congenital structural conditions: Physical problems, present at birth, may occur when a baby’s body doesn’t develop the way it should in the uterus (womb). Some examples include cleft lip, clubfoot, spina bifida and structural problems in the heart, lungs, intestines, urinary tract and other areas. Some congenital conditions may cause mild symptoms, whereas others may have lifelong effects.