What Factors Determine the Outcome of You and Your Baby's Health?
Many events determine the outcome of a pregnancy.
Maternal weight gain: The amount of weight a woman gains when pregnant can be important in predicting the outcome of pregnancy. Excess weight gain places a woman who is pregnat at risk for diabetes and hypertension, and it may increase the chance for needing a cesarean birth (C-section). Too little weight gain places the infant at risk for interuterine growth restriction and the mother at risk for anemia, nutritional deficiencies, and osteoporosis.
Nausea and vomiting: Even if a pregnant patient experiences what seems like an abnormal amount of nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), it probably will not affect the baby's health, particularly if the woman is still gaining weight at the anticipated rate.
Low or high red blood cell counts: The normal red blood cell count range varies slightly between laboratories, but is generally 4.2 - 5.9 million red cells per microliter. The risk of delivering prematurely is increased if the woman's blood count is low (anemia). Low blood counts also put her at risk of requiring a transfusion following a delivery. If the woman's blood count is too high (polycythemia), her baby may be larger than expected.
Maternal obesity: A person with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 is considered obese. If a woman who is pregnant is obese and has diabetes, her baby is three times more likely to have a birth defect. If she is obese but does not have diabetes, the risk of birth defects is not increased.
Maternal age: If the pregnant patient is older than 35 years, her infant is at a higher risk of birth defects and complications. The focus of genetic screening is to enable the woman to understand any problems her newborn may have. There is a 2% to 3% rate of major birth defects in this population.
Folic Acid Deficiency: A pregnancy which is deficient in the nutrient folic acid, also known as folate, can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the fetus. Neural tube defects are malformations of the brain and spinal cord which typically occur within the first few weeks of pregnancy; therefore, folic acid supplementation should be taken prior to conception and throughout the course of the pregnancy. It is recommended all non-pregnant women take a daily supplement containing 400mg of folate and pregnant women should take a supplement with 1000mg of folate.
DHA Deficiency: During pregnancy, a diet which is deficient in the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can lead to inadequate development of the eyes, brain, and central nervous system of a fetus. It is recommended that pregnant and lactating women consume 300mg DHA per day. DHA is found in animal meats, fish, eggs, and vegetable oils.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency: Having an Omega-3 deficiency during pregnancy can be harmful to both the mother and the baby. Omega-3's are polyunsaturated fats that support the growth and development of a fetus and help reduce the risks of pregnancy complications. It is recommended women consume 300mg of Omega-3's daily during the course of pregnancy. This nutrient can be found in cold water fish, eggs, walnuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.