Pregnancy and Children

Complications During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Complications     Pregnancy Complications

There are several complications that could, but hopefully will not, occur in your pregnancy. Below is a list of the most common pregnancy complications.

Common Complications in Pregnancy

Countless aches, pains, and other physical changes occur during pregnancy. Most of the time, they are no more than signs of normal pregnancy.

Some of the more common complications, adapted from the websites listed at the bottom of this page, in pregnancy include:

Ectopic pregnancy
Gestational diabetes
Preeclampsia
Preterm or Premature Labor
Rh Negative Factor
Group B Strep
Low Birth Weight
Toxoplasmosis

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy happens in approximately 1 out of 50 pregnancies.  Because almost all ectopic pregnancies occur in one of the fallopian tubes, they're often called "tubal" pregnancies. There is currently no way to transplant an ectopic (literally, "out of place") pregnancy into your uterus, so ending the pregnancy is the only option.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes in which the body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin to deal with sugar during pregnancy. Between 2-7% of expectant mothers develop this condition, making it one of the most common health problems of pregnancy.  Most women with gestational diabetes do not remain diabetic once the baby is born.

Preeclampsia

A woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia if she has high blood pressure and protein in her urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Preeclampsia causes the blood vessels to constrict, resulting in high blood pressure and a reduced blood flow that can affect organs throughout the body.  When preeclampsia is severe it can affect many organs and cause serious or even life-threatening problems. That is why you may need to deliver early if your condition is severe or getting worse. The only way to get better is to deliver the baby.  Preeclampsia most commonly shows up after 37 weeks, but it can develop at any time during the second half of pregnancy including during labor or even after delivery.  Preeclampsia affects 3-8% of pregnant women. 

Preterm or Premature Labor:

Premature or preterm labor is when a woman goes into labor before week 37 of pregnancy.  Any woman can have pre-term labor but some women have a higher risk. Problems with the uterus or placenta and a history of pre-term birth with another pregnancy increase the risk of preterm labor. Dehydration also boosts the chances of pre-term labor. About 12% of babies in the U. S. are born prematurely. This number has gone up over the years, partly because more women are pregnant with twins or higher order multiples, who tend to arrive early.

Rh Negative Factor

Each person's blood is one of four major types: A, B, AB, or O. The Rh factor is a type of protein on the surface of red blood cells. Most people who have the Rh factor are Rh-positive. Those who do not have the Rh factor are Rh-negative.

A problem arises when the mother is Rh negative, and her child is born Rh positive, and  the mother's body starts to build antibodies up against the next Rh positive baby. The best way to avoid problem is for the mother to be tested at the beginning of the pregnancy. The birth mother than can be given medication to help prevent the build-up of antibodies and thus prevent later problems.

Group B Strep

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is one of the leading causes of infections in newborns. This is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in the vagina and/or lower intestine of up to 40% of all healthy, adult women. A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery.  GBS is responsible for affecting about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. Not every baby who is born to a mother who tests positive for GBS will become ill. 

Low Birth Weight

Weight at birth is a good indicator not only of a mother's health and nutritional status but also the newborn's chances for survival, growth, long-term health.  Babies who are born at a low birth rate run the risk of respiratory infections, blindness, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and heart infections. In the industrialized world, cigarette smoking during pregnancy is the leading cause of low birthweight. Other common causes include poor nutrition and substance use. 

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite. More than 60 million people in the U.S. may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite.  A person can get this parasite by touching anything that has come into contact with cat feces, like the litter in a cat litter box. Eating contaminated raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison, touching your hands to your mouth after handling undercooked meat, and drinking water contaminated with toxoplasma are other ways to become infected.  Of those who are infected, very few have symptoms because a healthy person's immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. However, pregnant women should be cautious since a Toxoplasma infection could cause serious health problems.

Additional Information

Centers for disease Control (CDC)

Baby Center: Pregnancy and Pregnancy Complications

American Pregnancy: Common complications in pregnancy

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