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High-Risk Pregnancy Scans
Everybody hopes for a smooth sailing pregnancy and delivery. However, there are some conditions that confer higher-than-normal risks for the mother, the developing fetus or both during pregnancy and delivery. Pregnancies affected by these conditions are termed high-risk pregnancies.
Some of these conditions may be obvious; the most common being advanced maternal age or mothers-to-be who are aged 35 or more at the time of delivery. However, many are not so obvious and will not be diagnosed unless specific tests are done.
Although most pregnancies and deliveries will uncomplicated, sometimes complications occur to the least expected candidate. For example, a young healthy woman with no prior medical problems pregnant with her first child may suddenly develop life-threatening pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy).
Fortunately, if managed properly, many high-risk pregnancies will still end up with successful deliveries of healthy babies.
Preconception screening by a gynaecologist is advisable for every woman planning for pregnancy, especially so for someone who has medical problems, history of complications in previous pregnancies or family history of abnormal babies.
The gynaecologist will discuss with the women how those conditions will impact the future pregnancies. For women with pre-existing medical conditions – will the condition have a negative impact on the pregnancy and vice versa? Will she need to change her current medication before pregnancy? For women with a history of abnormal babies – what are the chances of recurrence? Is there an antenatal diagnosis? Can it be avoided?
For a woman who has not had a pre-pregnancy check, she should consult a gynaecologist as soon as she learns she is pregnant. Not only can an ultrasound scan be done to confirm the pregnancy is developing well in the correct location, it can be an opportunity to check with the gynaecologist about the pre-existing or potential risks for the pregnancy and how to mitigate those risks.
Conditions that increase the risk of complications in pregnancy
All the conditions that increase the risk of complications in pregnancy and delivery can be categorised into maternal (factors that arise from the mother) or fetal (factors that arise from the unborn child).
Maternal factors include extremes of age (younger than age 15, older than age 35); history of complications in previous pregnancies including repeated miscarriages, preterm delivery, stillborn, small-for-gestational-age baby, large-for- gestational age baby; history of illnesses like epilepsy, high blood pressure, chronic renal disease, uterine fibroids; family history of diabetes, abnormal babies etc.
Fetal factors include multiple pregnancies like twins, triplets; maternal exposure to infections (eg. Rubella, chickenpox etc), addictive substances (eg. alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs), medications that may be damaging to the developing fetus (norethisterone); and fetuses that had been diagnosed to have serious health problems (eg. congenital heart defect).
Pregnancy is a natural physiological process in life. One should not regard pregnancy as a disease and be over-cautious. However, one should not assume that everything will be smooth sailing and overlook the importance of antenatal checks. Only by doing regular checks and routine tests, can one be assured that the pregnancy is progressing normally. Should any complications be detected, proper management instituted in a timely manner will usually ensure the health and safety of both the mother & baby. Only when the well-being of both the mother and baby are maintained, can one truly enjoy the wonderful experience of pregnancy.
Pregnancy follows a fairly routine course for the vast majority of women. Some women, however, may be faced with unexpected difficulties and challenges along the way with medical related issues to their health or the health of their baby.
These women experience what is called a high-risk pregnancy and are potentially at risk for a multitude of complications during and after their course of pregnancy.
Prenatal screenings are recommended for all pregnant women. The tests provide information about you and your baby’s health and allow for early detection of complications or abnormalities.
The results can help you make recommendations for your health care decisions before and after your child is born.
There are a variety of non-invasive and invasive prenatal tests available your first, second, and third trimester.
- Routine Antenatal Blood Tests
- Non-invasive Prenatal Tests
- Screening for Gestational Diabetes
- Dating Scan
- First-trimester Screening Scan
- Fetal Anomaly Screening Scan
- Growth Scan
- Doppler Ultrasound Scan for Fetal Surveillance
- Cervical Length Surveillance & Cervical Cerclage
- 3D & 4D Ultrasound Scans
- Chronic Villus Sampling
Management of high-risk pregnancy requires a multidisciplinary team of specialists and clinical nurses to monitor and evaluate mothers and optimise fetal well-being. Our obstetricians are trained to manage complications (if any) during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.