Nutrition across the Life Span

By Mary Kay Mitchell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

HIGH-RISK PREGNANCY

Maternal Characteristics
Socioeconomic Status
Maternal Body Weight
Multiple Births
Health Conditions of the Mother
Substance Use and Abuse During Pregnancy
Concepts to Remember

In 1992, almost 40,000 babies born in the United States did not survive until their first birthday—approximately 10 deaths for every 1000 live births (MMWR, 1993). When babies die, it is most often because they are born prematurely and at a low birth weight. Preterm babies who are too small are 40 times more likely than full-term babies to die in the first month of life. Those who do survive are at increased risk of mental retardation, growth and developmental problems, visual and hearing defects, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning difficulties, chronic lung problems, and abuse and neglect.

The progression and outcome of pregnancy are described in Chapter 8. Pregnancy is usually a serene time in a woman's life. However, in some instances, maternal health status, psychosocial or economic factors, and lifestyle behaviors can complicate pregnancy. Each of the factors listed in Table 9-1 can constitute a risk for an adverse pregnancy outcome compromising embryonic development, fetal growth, and maternal health. When two or more factors occur together, the likelihood of a preterm birth, a low-birthweight infant, and other unfavorable outcomes increases. In the United States 10% to 20% of the estimated 3.5 million pregnancies each year fall into the high-risk category.

Nutrition intervention through carefully planned nutrition care and monitoring can reduce the impact of these factors on pregnancy outcome. The high-risk pregnancies discussed in this chapter are those for which nutrition management is appropriate.

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