Several factors can make a pregnancy high risk, including existing health conditions, the mother’s age, lifestyle, and health issues that happen before or during pregnancy.
This page provides some possible factors that could create a high-risk pregnancy situation. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, and each pregnancy is different, so the specific risks for one pregnancy may not be risks for another. Women who have any questions about their pregnancy should talk to a healthcare provider.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018). FAQs: Preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Preeclampsia-and-High-Blood-Pressure-During-Pregnancy
- Office on Women's Health. (2016). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) fact sheet. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017). Pregnancy if you have diabetes. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diabetes-pregnancy
- Williams, D., & Davison, J. (2008). Chronic kidney disease in pregnancy. BMJ, 336(7637), 211–215. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2213870/
- National Kidney Foundation. (2016). Pregnancy and kidney disease. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/pregnancy.cfm
- Kendrick, J., Sharma, S., Holmen, J., Palit, S., Nuccio, E., & Chonchol, M. (2015). Kidney disease and maternal and fetal outcomes in pregnancy. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 66(1), 55–59. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485539/
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Autoimmune diseases fact sheet. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/autoimmune-diseases.html
- Office on Women's Health. (2017). Thyroid disease fact sheet. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/thyroid-disease
- Vesco, K. K., Sharma, A. J., Dietz, P. M., Rizzo, J. H., Callaghan, W. M., England, L., et al. (2011). Newborn size among obese women with weight gain outside the Institute of Medicine recommendation. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 117, 812–818.
- Institute of Medicine. (2009). Weight gain during pregnancy. Retrieved on February 6, 2017, from http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2009/Weight-Gain-During-Pregnancy-Reexamining-the-Guidelines/Report%20Brief%20-%20Weight%20Gain%20During%20Pregnancy.pdf (PDF 716 KB)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2012). FAQs: HIV and pregnancy. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq113.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120730T1640322605 (PDF 279 KB)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). FAQ 103: Having a baby (especially for teens). Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Having-a-Baby-Especially-for-Teens
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). Teenage pregnancy. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/dating-sex/pages/Teenage-Pregnancy.aspx
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). (2007). Older mothers more likely than younger mothers to deliver by caesarean. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/pages/caesarean_release_030807.aspx
- Gill, S. K., Broussard, C., Devine, O., Green, R. F., Rasmussen, S. A., Reefhuis, J.; The National Birth Defects Prevention Study. (2012). Association between maternal age and birth defects of unknown etiology: United States, 1997–2007. Birth Defects Research. Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 94(12), 1010–1018. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532312/
- Grande, M., Borrell, A., Garcia-Posada, R., Borobio, V., Muñoz, M., Creus, M., et al. (2012). The effect of maternal age on chromosomal anomaly rate and spectrum in recurrent miscarriage. Human Reproduction, 27(10), 3109–3117. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22888165
- Sivalingam, V. N., Duncan, W. C., Kirk, E., Shephard, L. A., & Horne, A. W. (2011). Diagnosis and management of ectopic pregnancy. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, 37(4), 231–240. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3213855/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Alcohol use in pregnancy. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/alcohol-use.html
- Eckstrand, K. L., Ding, Z., Dodge, N. C., Cowan, R. L., Jacobson, J. L., Jacobson, S. W., et al. (2012). Persistent dose-dependent changes in brain structure in young adults with low-to-moderate alcohol exposure in utero. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 36(11), 1892–1902. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22594302
- NICHD. (2013). Tobacco, drug use in pregnancy can double risk of stillbirth. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/121113-stillbirth-drug-use.aspx
- NICHD. (2016). Cigarette smoking during pregnancy linked to changes in baby's immune system. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/122316-smoking-pregnancy
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Pregnant? Don't smoke. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.cdc.gov/Features/PregnantDontSmoke/
- NICHD. (2016). Prenatal exposure to marijuana may disrupt fetal brain development, mouse study suggests. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/
- MedlinePlus. (2015). Twins, triplets, multiple births. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/twinstripletsmultiplebirths.html#cat1
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2016). FAQs: Preterm (premature) labor and birth. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Preterm-Premature-Labor-and-Birth
- Howard, E. J., Harville, E., Kissinger, P., & Xiong, X. (2013). The association between short interpregnancy interval and preterm birth in Louisiana: A comparison of methods. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 17(5), 933–939.