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Pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks from the last menstrual period and ends in childbirth. Symptoms of early pregnancy may include missed periods, tender breasts, nausea and vomiting, frequent urination and fatigue. Pregnancy outcomes are improved with prenatal care. This includes avoiding drugs and alcohol, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, having blood tests and regular physical examinations, and taking prenatal vitamins and iron.

Common Complications of Pregnancy

Some women experience health problems during pregnancy. These complications can involve the mother’s health, the health of her baby, or both. Even women who were healthy before getting pregnant can experience pregnancy complications. Getting early and regular prenatal care can help decrease the risk for problems by enabling health care providers to diagnose, treat, or manage conditions before they become serious. More Information:

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that may occur in a pregnant woman who did not already have diabetes. Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy and develops between the middle and later part of a pregnancy. Diabetes means your blood sugar or glucose level is too high. Your body uses glucose for energy. Too much glucose in your blood can enter your baby who can stores it as fat and grow larger than normal. In the baby, gestational diabetes can cause early birth and respiratory problems, low blood sugar and seizures, and lead to conditions like type 2 diabetes later in life. If gestational diabetes remains untreated, the baby may die before or shortly after birth. For the mother, gestational diabetes can cause high blood pressure and preeclampsia, and increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes later on. However, if gestational diabetes is diagnosed, it may be controlled under a doctor's care by exercising and eating a healthy diet and sometimes taking insulin to lower blood sugar.

High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy (Preeclampsia)

A mother's high blood pressure during pregnancy is a condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia causes decreased blood supply to the baby, reducing oxygen supply and nutrient absorption. Preeclampsia can also lead to eclampsia, which can cause seizure or even coma in the mother. For more information on Preeclampsia, visit Medline Plus's Preeclampsia Medical Encyclopedia entryExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Preterm Birth

Substance and Alcohol use During Pregnancy

Prenatal substance abuse occurs when the mother uses drugs and/or alcohol, significantly increasing the risk for developmental and neurological disabilities in the developing fetus. Such exposure can cause severe neurological damage, brain damage, birth defects, and growth retardation in the substance-exposed newborn.  Alcohol use during this time can negatively impact babies and cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). FASDs are fully preventable if a woman does not drink at any time during pregnancy. For more information on the effects of substances on pregnancy, see the Alcohol/Substance Use During Pregnancy page. For information on FASD, visit the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder page

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexplained death of an infant under one year of age. Native American infants are about three times more likely to die of SIDS than caucasian infants. Most SIDS deaths are sleep related. In an effort to reduce SIDS, experts advise and a government campaign encourages the placement of infants on their backs to avoid suffocation from sleeping on their stomachs.


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