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What Does "High-Risk" Pregnancy Mean?

I'm 36 years old and pregnant. A friend told me that I automatically have a high-risk pregnancy. What is that and what does it mean?
- Patsy

The term "high-risk pregnancy" describes a case where a pregnant woman has one or more factors that could put her or the fetus at risk for health problems.

In general, a pregnancy may be considered high risk if the pregnant woman:

  • is 35 years old or older
  • is 17 years old or younger
  • is underweight or overweight prior to becoming pregnant
  • is pregnant with more than one fetus
  • has gestational diabetes
  • has gone into premature labor
  • has had a premature baby
  • has had a baby with a birth defect, especially heart or genetic problems
  • has high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lupus, asthma, a seizure disorder, or another longstanding medical problem

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013