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Know Your Health and Pregnancy Risks

Know Your Family Health History

Certain health problems run in ethnic groups and cultures. If you have a family history of health problems or birth defects, your future children may be at risk.

Talk with your health care provider, a social worker, or other health professional if you have the following concerns or conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • History of cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hemophilia
  • Thalassemia or Sickle Cell disease
  • Tay Sachs disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Cognitive or intellectual disabilities

Also, if you have had a child with spina bifida, you are at greater risk of having another child with the disease. The risk of having a child with a cleft lip and/or palate is increased if you have a family history. If you have a family history of Down syndrome or another chromosomal or genetic abnormality, consult a genetic counselor to determine your risk. Finally, having children with a blood relative may increase the risk of having a child with a genetic disorder or birth defect.

  • Learn more information on these and other health concerns.

Know Your Health and Pregnancy Risks

The health and previous pregnancy history of you and your partner can affect the health of your baby.

Medical conditions such as anemia, low birth weight and premature delivery are more common in closely spaced pregnancies. At least two years between births is usually best for the well being of mother and baby.

Infants weighing less than 5.8 pounds are at greater risk for health problems. Women who have had a low birth weight baby should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, receive routine medical exams before becoming pregnant, and avoid alcohol, drugs and tobacco use.

Women who have given birth to babies more than 9 pounds are a greater risk for developing gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy) in future pregnancies. High birth weight also increases the risk for birth injuries.

Women 16 years of age or less are at risk for delivering too early, having low birth weight babies, or developing anemia during pregnancy.

Infants of women age 35 or greater are at increased risk of medical and genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. The mother is at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, anemia, and postpartum hemorrhage (loss of blood after delivery).

Men should schedule testicular, prostate, colon and other screenings as recommended by their doctor.

Women should schedule their pap smear, mammogram, colon and other screenings as recommended by their doctor.

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