Dr. Gerber, who has been practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology for 11 years, is also the Associate Director of Graduate Medical Education in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern. Dr. Gerber's clinical and research interests include perinatal health policy as well as maternal quality of life.
Be Smart. Be Well. sat down with Dr. Gerber to discuss what contributes to a high-risk pregnancy and what women can do to manage it. Watch the video interview above or read the transcript below.
To learn more about Managing Healthy Pregnancy, visit Be Smart. Be Well. Managing Pregnancy Risks.
Susan Gerber M.D.: All pregnant women have some degree of risk to develop complications of pregnancy such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Similarly all pregnant women have some degree of risk of delivering preterm, mostly close to term but a smaller fraction will go on and deliver at severely preterm gestational ages.
Susan Gerber M.D.: Older moms may face a multitude of risks in pregnancy but the primary risk facing older mothers is really the risk of conceiving a baby with a chromosome abnormality. That significantly rises as maternal age increases. Beyond that the risks of other pregnancy-related complications for older mothers does rise as women age. The other end of the spectrum, for teenage moms, they do carry significantly increased risks of certain types of birth defects for reasons that aren't entirely clear and are similarly at risk for other complications of pregnancy including things like postpartum depression.
Susan Gerber M.D.: For women who are high-risk, particularly in women who are diabetics, partnering with a medical team is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Not just during pregnancy but actually prior to pregnancy and in planning a pregnancy. Because often women will not recognize a pregnancy until the embryo's already started to develop. And it's the glucose control at around the time that they conceive, not just when the pregnancy is diagnosed that's so critical in the developing of, or the lack of development of, birth defects and successful pregnancy. So planning a pregnancy, speaking with a doctor before they get pregnant, having the best glucose control that they can possibly have and then conceiving is the best possible path to having a healthy pregnancy for a women with diabetes.
Susan Gerber M.D.: One of the great things about this job is that regardless of the risks that we discuss presented by a pre-existing medical condition, someone's past obstetrical history, the vast majority of women with high-risk pregnancies will go on and do just fine. That's the wonderful nature of the body's ability to maintain a pregnancy in someone who's healthy enough to get pregnant. They will often - with or without intervention - go on and do fine.