What Conditions Contribute to a High-Risk Pregnancy?

pregnant woman at home

Pregnancy is typically a time of excitement and anticipation, but for some women, it can be a period marked by increased medical concerns and risks. A high-risk pregnancy is one in which certain conditions make the health of the mother, the baby, or both more vulnerable. Understanding the conditions contributing to a high-risk pregnancy is crucial for early identification and appropriate medical care. Here are some of the most common factors and conditions that can contribute to a high-risk pregnancy:

Advanced Maternal Age

Women who become pregnant at an older age, typically defined as 35 years or older, face a higher risk of complications. These can include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, such as Down syndrome.

Medical Conditions

Preexisting health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, and kidney disease can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. Women with these conditions must have their health well-managed before and during pregnancy.

Multiple Gestations

Carrying twins, triplets, or more fetuses, known as multiples, can put added stress on a woman’s body and increase the risk of complications such as preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.

History of Pregnancy Complications

Women who have experienced complications in previous pregnancies, such as preterm birth, stillbirth, or preeclampsia, are at a higher risk of encountering similar issues in subsequent pregnancies.


Certain infections during pregnancy, such as HIV, rubella, or syphilis, can pose risks to the mother and the developing fetus. Proper management and antiretroviral therapy can help reduce transmission risks and manage the condition.

Placental Issues

Conditions affecting the placenta, such as placenta previa (when the placenta covers the cervix) or placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall prematurely), can lead to significant bleeding and complications.

Preterm Labor

A history of preterm labor or a shortened cervix can increase the risk of delivering the baby prematurely, resulting in health challenges for the infant.


Obesity during pregnancy can lead to a range of complications, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and an increased risk of cesarean delivery.

Substance Abuse

Women who use tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs during pregnancy face a higher risk of delivering babies with low birth weight, developmental issues, and other complications.

Incompetent Cervix

In some cases, the cervix may begin to dilate prematurely, increasing the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.

Poorly Controlled Gestational Diabetes

Developing diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) can lead to complications if blood sugar levels are not adequately managed. This can result in larger babies and an increased risk of cesarean delivery.


Women with chronic hypertension or a history of preeclampsia are at a higher risk of developing this condition during pregnancy, leading to high blood pressure and potential organ damage.

It is important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee complications during pregnancy. Medical advances and careful prenatal care can help manage many high-risk pregnancy conditions effectively. Early and regular prenatal check-ups, close monitoring by healthcare providers, and adherence to medical advice can mitigate the risks associated with these conditions and contribute to a safer pregnancy for both the mother and the baby. At Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A., we provide medical monitoring for women with high-risk pregnancies to help maintain wellness for mother and baby. Contact our obstetrics team to schedule an appointment if you have high-risk pregnancy factors.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.