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Low and high risk

A high-risk pregnancy pose special challenges before, during, or after delivery. It indicates that a pregnant woman is experiencing one or more factors that could put her or the fetus at risk of health problems. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you and your baby could require special monitoring and care throughout your pregnancy.

What are the risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy?

Maternal age: Pregnancy risks are higher for mothers age 35 and older, as well as mothers that are 17 and younger.

Lifestyle: Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs can put a pregnancy at risk.

Obstetrical History: A prior C-section, low birth weight baby or preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) may increase the risk in subsequent pregnancies. Other risk factors include a family history of genetic conditions, a history of pregnancy loss or the death of a baby shortly after birth.

Medical History: Chronic conditions — such as diabetes, high blood pressure and epilepsy — increase pregnancy risks. Others include blood conditions, such as anemia, infections, or underlying mental health conditions.

Pregnancy complications: Various complications that develop during pregnancy pose risks, such as problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta. Other concerns might include too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios), low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), restricted fetal growth, and Rh (rhesus) sensitization — a potentially serious condition that can occur when your blood group is Rh negative and your baby’s blood group is Rh positive.

Multiples pregnancy: Risks are higher for women carrying two or more babies during the pregnancy.

What steps can I take to promote a healthy pregnancy?

Whether you are aware that you may have a high-risk pregnancy or simply wish to prevent one, Dr. Sorkin always encourages our patients to take the following precautions:

Schedule a preconception appointment: If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, prepare by coming in for a consultation. Dr. Sorkin may counsel you to start taking a daily prenatal vitamin and/or reach a healthy weight before you become pregnant. If you have a preexisting medical condition, your treatment may need to be adjusted to prepare for pregnancy. If applicable, we will also discuss any risks of having a baby with a genetic condition.

Seek regular prenatal care: Prenatal visits help Dr. Sorkin monitor you and your baby’s health.

Eat a healthy diet: During pregnancy, you will need to intake extra folic acid, calcium, iron and other essential nutrients. Together with Dr. Sorkin , you will select a prenatal vitamin that can help fulfill the daily requirements.

Gain weight wisely: Gaining the right amount of weight helps support your baby’s health and make it easier to shed the extra pounds after delivery. Dr. Sorkin will help determine what is right for you.

Avoid risky substances: This is the time to be open with your doctor regarding your health, any addictions you may have, or prescribed medicine you are taking.

Do I need special tests?

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, there are various tests or procedures in addition to routine prenatal screening tests to consider. Depending on the circumstances, Dr. Sorkin may recommend:

Specialized or targeted ultrasound:

This type of fetal ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of a baby in the uterus. Dr. Sorkin uses it to target a suspected problem, such as abnormal development.


During this procedure, a perinatologist withdraws a sample of the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy (amniotic fluid) from the uterus. Typically performed after week 16 of the pregnancy, amniocentesis can identify certain genetic conditions like downs syndrome, as well as neural tube defects — serious abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS):

During this procedure, a perinatologist removes a small sample of cells from the placenta. Typically performed between weeks 10 to 12 of the pregnancy, CVS can identify certain genetic conditions.

Cervical length measurement:

Dr. Sorkin uses an ultrasound to measure the length of your cervix at prenatal appointments to determine if you’re at risk for preterm labor.

Biophysical profile:

This prenatal test is used to check on your baby’s well-being. The test combines fetal heart rate monitoring (non-stress test) and fetal ultrasound.

Please note some prenatal diagnostic tests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, do carry a small risk of pregnancy loss. That is why the decision to pursue prenatal testing is ultimately left to you and your partner but Dr. Sorkin will guide you both into making the right decision for you.