Dental Health and Wellness Boston offers specialized care for patients who are pregnant. We know that numerous complications can occur with pregnancy and by promoting good oral health, risks for your baby related to plaque buildup and periodontal disease can be greatly reduced. Guest blogger Lucy A. Bayer-Zwirello, MD, FACOG, FRCSC discusses other medical conditions related to high risk pregnancies and preventative steps you can take to promote well-being for yourself and your baby in this three part series.
Dr. Bayer is the Chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine.
“Many women hear the term ‘high risk’ at the beginning of their pregnancy, but in reality this term needs more explanation. Any pregnancy can be considered high risk for maternal reasons or fetal reasons, and any condition that impacts a woman’s health or the future newborn’s health makes a pregnancy high risk.
“Maternal age over 40 and pre-existing conditions such as infertility, diabetes, thyroid disease or arthritis, are just some of the conditions that can influence a pregnancy. Today more than 20% of pregnant women are over age 35. Age alone does not make a pregnancy high risk, but age plus a pre-existing condition creates more of an issue. Many women today delay pregnancy to fulfill career choices, and more women now conceive thanks to assisted reproductive service such as In Vitro, donor egg or donor sperm. Once pregnant, these women may not realize how their conditions may change the course of the pregnancy.
“Studies have shown that maternal age of 40 or greater has very specific risks such as intra-uterine growth restriction and even fetal death. Certainly the health of the mother influences the quality of the pregnancy, but a common misconception about maternal age is that the risk of trisomy 21 or Downs syndrome occurs only in older women. While it does increase with age, any woman could have a child with Downs (trisomy 21). Chromosomal defects are “accidents” that occur after conception. Rarely one of the parents is a carrier of a balanced translocation, but only 1 to 3 percent of chromosomal defects are caused by such a condition. In general one has to assume that trisomy 21 is not an inheritable disease.”