Levels of care available for a high-risk pregnancy

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:50 pm
When a pregnancy is believed to be high-risk, special monitoring and care may be necessary for both mother and baby. Many factors can create a higher-risk situation, including poor nutrition, age over 35, high blood pressure, diabetes, infections, or family history of birth defects. The mother may need to have her blood pressure checked more frequently, take supplements, or eat especially well. Various tests can be administered to determine if genetic disabilities may be present. Ultrasound can be used to look for fetal conditions like congenital heart defects, intestinal and kidney problems, and spina bifida (SPY-nah BIF-ih-dah). In late pregnancy, a technique called umbilical (um BILL ih cal) vein sampling allows doctors to diagnose hemophilia (HEE-moe-FEE-lee-uh), metabolic disorders, and infections. If needed, they can then give the fetus drugs or blood transfusions. If there's a chance of premature birth, or if doctors need to induce labor, they can do an amniocentesis (AM-nee-oh-sin-TEE-suss) to evaluate whether the baby's lungs are strong enough to breathe after birth. During labor, electric fetal monitoring may be used, to watch for signs of distress. When problems with mother and baby are anticipated, the staff may have special equipment on standby, or be ready to take the baby to a neo-natal I-C-U. For more information about the care available for a high-risk pregnancy, consult a health care provider.
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