High-risk pregnancy

A high-risk pregnancy is one in which the mother or her fetus is at increased risk for health problems. The determination of a high-risk pregnancy is based on the mother's current health status, age, and pregnancy history, as well as the presence of a genetic disorder in either parent.

Specifically, a pregnancy is considered high risk when a woman:

  • Has a genetic disease (such as cystic fibrosis), chronic disease (such as diabetes), chronic infection (such as HIV), brain disorder (such as epilepsy), heart problems or high blood pressure.
  • Is overweight or underweight.
  • Is younger than 17 or older than 35.
  • Has had problems with previous pregnancies, such as repeated miscarriages, preterm labor, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or difficult births.
  • Has an abnormality detected during the pregnancy.
  • Has multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets).

Last Updated: May 21, 2009

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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