Attorney at Law

High-Risk Pregnancy

Daisy Rogozinsky
October 24, 2022

A high-risk pregnancy requires extra care by medical professionals. In this article, we’ll define the term “high-risk pregnancy” and explain how it relates to birth injury law.

Key Takeaways

  • A high-risk pregnancy carries increased health risks for the pregnant parent, fetus, or both
  • Causes of high-risk pregnancy include age, substance abuse, health conditions, and more
  • Symptoms of high-risk pregnancy include chest pain, vaginal bleeding, trouble breathing, fever, and more
  • Complications of high-risk pregnancy include birth defects, miscarriage, stillbirth, and more
  • High-risk pregnancies can be detected through blood tests, urine tests, ultrasounds, and fetal monitoring
  • High-risk pregnancies require extra care in the form of closer monitoring and more extensive evaluation
  • A failure to properly detect and respond to a high-risk pregnancy leading to birth injury may be considered medical malpractice 

What Is a High-Risk Pregnancy?  

A high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy that has an increased health risk for the pregnant person, fetus, or both. People with high-risk pregnancies may require additional care before, during, or after birth in order to reduce the risk of complications. About 50,000 people in the U.S. experience severe pregnancy complications every year.

Causes of High-Risk Pregnancy

Potential causes of high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Age over 35
  • Age over 17
  • Smoking
  • Drug addiction
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Exposure to certain toxins
  • Preexisting health conditions
  • Pregnancy-related health conditions 

Preexisting health conditions that can make pregnancy more dangerous include:

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or multiple sclerosis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • COVID-19
  • Kidney disease
  • Mental health disorders, such as depression
  • Low body weight, indicated by a BMI of less than 18.5
  • Fibroids
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Diabetes

Pregnancy-related conditions that can pose risks include:

  • Birth defects
  • Genetic conditions in the fetus.
  • Preeclampsia
  • Eclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Previous preterm labor or birth
  • Complications with previous pregnancies
  • Poor growth in the fetus
  • Multiple gestation, such as twins or triplets

Symptoms of High-Risk Pregnancy

The signs and symptoms of high-risk pregnancy include:

  • The fetus's movement stopping or slowing
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain that doesn’t go away
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts about harming the fetus
  • Severe headache that won’t go away or gets worse
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Swelling, redness, or pain in your face or limbs
  • Nausea and vomiting more severe than normal morning sickness
  • Fever over 100.4° Farenheit

Complications of High-Risk Pregnancy

High-risk pregnancies can be highly dangerous to the health of both the pregnant person and the fetus, even posing a threat to their lives. Some of the complications of high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Low or high birth weight
  • Excessive bleeding during labor and delivery, or after birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Birth defects
  • Eclampsia
  • Preterm delivery
  • Cesarean delivery
  • Problems with fetal brain development
  • Stillbirth

High-Risk Pregnancy Care

In order to decrease the risk of high-risk pregnancy, prenatal care is key. There are several ways to detect a possible high-risk pregnancy, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Fetal monitoring

Pregnant people diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy will require extra monitoring and care, including:

  • Closer monitoring by the OB-GYN
  • Home blood pressure monitoring
  • More ultrasounds
  • Closer fetal evaluation
  • Consultation with other medical specialists, including a maternal-fetal medicine specialist
  • Monitoring of medication and preexisting conditions 

High-Risk Pregnancy and Birth Injury Law

When healthcare professionals fail to properly detect or care for high-risk pregnancies, it can pose a serious risk, and it is negligent. If this leads to birth injury, it may be considered medical malpractice. 

If you or your baby experienced complications because your doctors did not properly identify or respond to your high-risk pregnancy, you may be eligible for compensation. It is recommended that you speak to an experienced birth injury lawyer in order to review your options.

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