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Health Conditions That Complicate Pregnancy

Health Conditions That Complicate Pregnancy

There are many conditions that can place a woman and her pregnancy at great risk. High blood pressure and diseases of the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys can be severely worsened by pregnancy. Women with eating disorders, from anorexia to obesity, may also be at great risk during pregnancy.

Diabetes is a common problem for pregnant women, and can lead to an assortment of problems for the mother and her baby during and after pregnancy. To prevent these problems, women with diabetes should have their glucose under strict control before conception. Women with poorly controlled blood sugars are at higher risk of miscarriage, birth defects, and stillbirth.

In addition, since children born to women with poorly controlled diabetes may be at risk for open spine defects (such as spina bifida), it's important to take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement containing at least 0.4 milligrams (400 micrograms) folic acid prior to pregnancy. This daily supplement, combined with strict glucose control, will considerably decrease the risk for fetal problems.

Some medications for common medical conditions can cause birth defects or other problems during pregnancy. If you take medication regularly for conditions like blood pressure, seizures, kidney disease, or blood clotting problems, talk to your health care provider before you get pregnant. You may be able to switch to another medication that is safer in pregnancy.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions, it's best to discuss them with your health care provider prior to becoming pregnant.

Updated: 12/9/2012

Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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