Women who have chronic conditions like diabetes, heart defects, or kidney disease tend to have more difficult pregnancies. As a result, they're more likely to deliver preterm and have low birth weight babies.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises these women to work closely with their physicians on managing their chronic conditions. Adjustments to diet, medications, and activity levels can help avert preterm delivery risk.
Pregnancy-specific complications and diseases can also lead to preterm birth. For example, if bacteria infect the uterus, immediate delivery is necessary.
Another threat is preeclampsia, with its hallmarks of high blood pressure and protein in the urine. This dangerous, little-understood disease most commonly affects older moms, first-time moms and moms of multiples. The disease cuts off nutrients to infants and can cause deadly seizures in mothers. Immediate delivery is the only sure way to save both mom and baby.
Other than high blood pressure and protein the urine, symptoms of preeclampsia may include swelling the hands, face or feet, headache, blurred vision and abdominal pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Did You Know?
Preeclampsia and it's more full-blown form, eclampsia, affect 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States, costing $3 billion a year and causing 15 percent of premature births, according to Preeclampsia.org. Medical researchers still don't know what causes the disease.