Maternal and Fetal Risk Assessment

What is maternal and fetal risk assessment?

A maternal and fetal risk assessment is a physical exam and gathering of information about your medical, family, and pregnancy history. The assessment helps your healthcare provider know what problems, if any, you might have during your pregnancy.

It’s best to have a risk assessment before you get pregnant, but it may also be done at the first checkup of your pregnancy.

What happens during the assessment?

You will have a physical exam, including a pelvic exam with a Pap test and tests to check for infections. If you are pregnant, your healthcare provider will estimate how long you have been pregnant and the baby’s due date.

To check for possible problems, your healthcare provider will ask about:

  • The history of your previous pregnancies, such as how many deliveries, miscarriages, or abortions you have had, and any complications with your previous pregnancies or deliveries
  • If you are pregnant, the history of your current pregnancy, such as the date of your last menstrual period; any bleeding, spotting or pain; and your feelings and the father’s feelings about the pregnancy
  • Your medical history, such as diseases, accidents, allergies, medicines you take, and your history of vaccines. Your provider will also ask about your menstrual periods, whether you use birth control, any history of abnormal pelvic exams or Pap tests, and treatment for any diseases or infections of your female organs.
  • Your social history, such as drug use, smoking and alcohol history, exercise, financial problems, and type of work that you do. Family history, such as pregnancy problems, birth defects, and genetic problems.
  • Your dietary history, such as a special diet, unusual cravings, or eating disorders

Depending on your answers and exam results, you may be asked other questions or have additional exams or tests.

What do assessment results mean?

Your physical exam and medical and family history can help your healthcare provider know if you or your baby are at risk for problems. There may be things you and your provider can do to lower risks. Examples of risk factors and the problems they may cause include:

  • If you had preterm labor or delivery during a previous pregnancy, you are at risk of having early labor in your current pregnancy.
  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, or take recreational drugs, there is an increased risk for your baby both before and after the baby is born. Your baby might be born too early or may not grow normally. Alcohol can cause physical and mental birth defects.
  • If you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, or had diabetes during a previous pregnancy, you are at risk of having diabetes during your current pregnancy.
  • If you have kidney disease, are over 35 years old, have high blood pressure, or had high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy, you are at risk of having problems from high blood pressure during your current pregnancy.
  • If you are over 35 years old, already had a baby with a genetic problem, or have a family history of genetic problems, then you have an increased risk of having a baby with a genetic problem. Genes are inside each cell of your body. They contain the information that tells your body how to develop and work. An example of a common genetic problem is Down’s syndrome.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-07
Last reviewed: 2014-02-05
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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