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Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but health problems do occur and lead to several complications during pregnancy. Most pregnancy complications can easily be detected and prevented during routine prenatal visits. Some of the most common complications that may occur in the pregnant woman and the foetus are discussed below.

Preeclampsia: This condition develops in the late second or third trimester of pregnancy and is because of high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. Symptoms of this condition include swelling in the hands and face and abrupt weight gain of more than 2 pounds in a week. During a routine checkup your doctor will check your blood pressure and may order blood and urine tests. The presence of protein in the urine, higher liver enzyme level and platelet count less than 100,000 indicates preeclampsia. A blood pressure reading in excess of 140/90 mm/ Hg is abnormal in pregnancy. Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound with a nonstress test to know more about your baby's movement in the uterus. Depending on the results of these tests your doctor will decide whether your baby needs to be delivered right away.

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR): It is a condition in which growth of the foetusis abnormally slow inside the uterus. Your doctor will do an ultrasound examination to see your baby's growth in the uterus. If the weight of the growing foetus is found to be below 90% of the healthy weight expected for that gestational age, then IUGR may be suspected. If IUGR is suspected, additional tests may be done to determine infection and genetic disorders.

Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes is the type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. High blood glucose levels usually develop in the second trimester and probably resolve after your baby is born. This can affect you and your baby as poorly controlled blood sugar level increases the risk of developing preeclampsia, having a large baby with consequent need for Caesarean section at delivery, and baby may be born with low blood sugar level and jaundice. During prenatal visits, your doctor may check your blood glucose level using the following test:

  • Oral glucose tolerance test: This test requires certain special instructions to be followed before the testing. It includes eating a normal diet, followed fasting before the test.

The blood glucose level will be measured before the test. Then after drinking sugary beverage, the blood glucose levels are noted after 1 and 2 hours. If your blood glucose level rises above normal during the test, then gestational diabetes is confirmed.

Genetic disorders: These are disorders caused by an abnormality in a specific gene. Genetic abnormalities in a foetus can be evaluated by blood tests, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. In amniocentesis, a sample of the fluid that surrounds the foetus is drawn and analyzed to see whether your baby has any abnormalities. In chorionic villus sampling, a small sample of the chorionic villi (placenta tissue) is removed from the uterus. This procedure is usually done during early pregnancy and is used to diagnose some genetic disorders in the foetus.

The University of Western AustraliaST John of God Health CareGlengarry Private Hospital