Because every mother-to-be wants to have a problem-free pregnancy, we talked to Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, an obstetrics-gynecology specialist, with superspecialization in infertility, about the most important factors that can negatively influence intrauterine development.
Risks during pregnancy
The main internal factors that influence intrauterine development are uterine malformations and tumors, too narrow pelvis, hormonal disorders of future mothers, administration of hormones in increased quantity, and decrease in the oxygen intake necessary for the embryo (due to some chronic diseases of the mother, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, placental disorders), administration of drugs, viral infections with rubella, HIV, CMV (cytomegalovirus), streptococcal, staphylococcal infections, syphilis, TB, toxoplasma.
From the same category of internal factors that negatively affect intrauterine development, Dr. Vythoulkas continued, there are also those related to the nutritional disorders of the pregnant woman, the too-young (under 16) or too-old age of the mother, but also her stature, as well as the mother’s exposure to chemical radiation.
Fetal development and genetic factors
The development of the fetus is influenced by genetic factors, but also by external factors, such as climate and geographical area.
Nutrition is the main non-genetic factor influencing the intrauterine development of the child.
It is important for every mother-to-be to know that the nutrients that the baby needs so much depend to a large extent on the balanced diet that she will adopt during pregnancy, as well as on the correction of possible mineral and trace element deficiencies by taking supplements of vitamins and minerals.
An appropriate level of zinc, calcium and magnesium contributes to carrying a pregnancy to term. Folic acid and iron are important for preventing neural tube defects and anemia, vitamin C reduces the risk of premature birth.
Deficient nutrition also influences brain development, so malnutrition has long-term effects, making the child’s memory process difficult or even causing behavioral disorders.
During pregnancy, the mother’s body is much more stressed, the immune system is lower, Dr. Vythoulkas continued, and the pregnant woman is more prone to infections.
Diseases of the genital system
Sexually transmitted diseases, candidiasis, herpes, and rubella are just some of the infections that can influence intrauterine development. Rubella, during the first four months of pregnancy, can affect the child’s vision and hearing, and sexually transmitted infections can affect the child’s health both during intrauterine life and after birth.
Hepatitis B infection is also transmitted to the child, and chicken pox is dangerous for both the mother and the fetus, which will develop congenital chicken pox and congenital malformations.
CMV infection can cause serious health problems for the fetus (hepatitis, deafness, microcephaly).
Blood pressure and diabetes are two diseases that need special monitoring during pregnancy, their high values cause certain risks.
High blood pressure values cause a decrease in blood flow to the placenta and, implicitly, a decrease in oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Thus, its growth rate will be slowed down, and at birth, it may have a lower weight.
Pregnancy or gestational diabetes is a form of disease that occurs only during pregnancy. It is not a cause for concern as long as it is detected and monitored in time.
The complications of this disease are represented by the risk of losing the pregnancy or the appearance of congenital malformations.
Another factor that can have serious consequences on the fetus is the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Among the main risks are delayed fetal development, miscarriage, and premature or late birth.