Health Library

Health Library

Risk Factors

Identifying potential risks of a pregnancy is an important part of preconception care. Some women have increased chances for having a high-risk pregnancy because of genetic background, existing medical conditions, their lifestyle, or factors that may develop with the pregnancy.

Pregnancy risk factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Mother is younger than 18 years old or older than 35

  • Mother is underweight or overweight for height

  • Mother has anemia (low red blood cell count) and poor nutrition status

  • Low socioeconomic status

  • Previously given birth more than four times

  • Previous preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation)

  • Previous birth of a very large or very small baby

  • Previous pregnancy loss

  • Family history of genetic disease or previous baby with a birth defect

  • Substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs)

  • Pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease

  • Infertility medications or treatments (more likely to result in multiple births)

There are many external risk factors, including alcohol, drugs, smoke, high temperatures, radiation exposure, and high altitudes that can pose a serious threat to a developing fetus.

Listed in the directory below, you will find some additional information regarding risk factors for pregnancy, for which we have provided a brief overview.

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Smoking and Pregnancy

Illegal Drug Use and Pregnancy

Medications and Pregnancy

Medical Conditions and Pregnancy

Risk Factors - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Haines, Cynthia, M.D.
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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