Pregnancy complications? You could face these life-threatening health issues later

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Pregnancy complications? You could face these life-threatening health issues later

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women who have had preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications get screened yearly for diseases.

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Sonja Haller, USA TODAY Published 2:14 p.m. ET Dec. 27, 2018 | Updated 2:39 p.m. ET Dec. 27, 2018
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After a challenging pregnancy, new moms who dealt with a pregnancy complication may believe that a particular health issue is in the past.

A report from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) says that's not necessarily true.

The report released this month says that certain pregnancy complications may mean chronic or even life-threatening health issues like heart disease -- later.

Those pregnancy complications include:

  • Gestational diabetes,
  • Gestational hypertension,
  • Preeclampsia,
  • And fetal growth restriction.

The (AJOG) and American College of Nurse-Midwives and other experts are recommending yearly visits to a gynecologist and a primary care doctor for women who have experienced these pregnancy complications.

"We are looking at pregnancy as a window to the woman’s future health,” said Dr. Judette Louis, coauthor of the report. "The interpregnancy period is an opportunity for women’s health care providers to address complications and medical issues that develop during pregnancy, assess a woman’s mental and physical well-being, and optimize her health along her life course."

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Although the birth of a baby may resolve a health issue such as with gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, underlying health issues may actually contribute to the development of these conditions.

The doctors can screen women for signs of diseases and health issues for each of the four complications.

Gestational diabetes

Pregnant women with gestational diabetes have a seven-fold chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life compared to women who test in the normal range of blood sugar.

Gestational hypertension

Women with a history of high blood pressure during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing chronic hypertension. They also have twice the risk of developing heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Preeclampsia

Women with preeclampsia, marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine at and above 20 weeks of pregnancy, are at risk of it happening in subsequent pregnancies. Women who have had preeclampsia are also two times more at risk of heart disease.

More: What is preeclampsia? And does it still kill women in the US?

Fetal growth restriction

A smaller-than-normal baby may indicate vascular disease "throughout the body," Dr. Leena Nathan, an assistant OB-GYN professor at the University of California, Los Angeles told TODAY. "There's a concern that blood flow to the placenta was not sufficient or the body didn't create a very robust placenta."

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The report was Published in Obstetrics & Gynecology and the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Interpregnancy Care. For more information: www.acog.org/More-Info/InterpregnancyCare .

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