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Overview of Disease During Pregnancy

By Lara A. Friel, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Division, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Texas Health Medical School at Houston, McGovern Medical School

The risk of problems during pregnancy may be increased by

  • Disorders that women had before they became pregnant (preexisting disorders), such as diabetes or high blood pressure

  • Disorders that develop during the pregnancy but are not directly related to the pregnancy

  • Disorders that are more likely to occur during pregnancy

Having certain disorders, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can increase the risk of problems during pregnancy. If women who have such a disorder wish to become pregnant, they should first talk with a doctor and try to get in the best physical condition possible before they become pregnant. After such women become pregnant, they may need special care, often from an interdisciplinary team. The team may include an obstetrician (who may also be a specialist in care of the disorder during pregnancy), a specialist in the disorder, and other health care practitioners (such as nutritionists).

Sometimes disorders that are not directly related to pregnancy develop during pregnancy. Some of them increase the risk of problems for pregnant women or the fetus. They include

Some disorders are more likely to occur during pregnancy because of the many changes pregnancy causes in a woman’s body. Examples are