Sign InSign Up
All Posts

Pregnancy Complications

Discover the crucial information about pregnancy complications, their potential risks, and how to navigate through them for a healthy and stress-free pregnancy journey.

USMLE Guide: Pregnancy Complications


Pregnancy complications are medical conditions that arise during pregnancy and can affect the health of the mother, fetus, or both. These complications can occur due to various factors, including existing medical conditions, lifestyle choices, genetic factors, or unknown causes. As a medical professional, it is crucial to understand the different types of pregnancy complications, their potential consequences, and appropriate management strategies. This USMLE guide provides a comprehensive overview of common pregnancy complications, their diagnosis, and management.

Table of Contents

  1. Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy
  2. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
  3. Placenta Previa
  4. Preterm Labor
  5. Preeclampsia
  6. Conclusion

1. Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy include gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and eclampsia. These conditions are characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy and can have serious consequences if not properly managed. Key points to remember include:

  • Gestational hypertension is defined as elevated blood pressure (>140/90 mmHg) after 20 weeks of gestation without the presence of proteinuria.
  • Preeclampsia is characterized by hypertension after 20 weeks of gestation accompanied by proteinuria (>300 mg/24 hours).
  • Eclampsia is a severe form of preeclampsia characterized by the onset of seizures.
  • Management involves close monitoring of blood pressure, fetal well-being, and potential complications. Delivery may be necessary to prevent further harm.

2. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It can lead to adverse outcomes for both the mother and the baby. Key points to remember include:

  • GDM is diagnosed through oral glucose tolerance testing (OGTT) between 24-28 weeks of gestation.
  • Management involves dietary modifications, regular exercise, and, in some cases, insulin therapy.
  • Close monitoring of blood glucose levels, fetal growth, and maternal well-being is crucial to prevent complications.
  • Women with GDM have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and should be screened postpartum.

3. Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix. It can lead to severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. Key points to remember include:

  • Placenta previa is usually diagnosed through ultrasound imaging.
  • Management depends on the severity of the condition and gestational age.
  • In cases of significant bleeding or fetal distress, immediate delivery via cesarean section may be necessary.
  • Close monitoring of maternal bleeding, fetal well-being, and potential complications is essential.

4. Preterm Labor

Preterm labor refers to the onset of labor before 37 weeks of gestation. It carries risks for the baby's health and requires prompt management. Key points to remember include:

  • Risk factors for preterm labor include a history of preterm birth, multiple pregnancies, certain infections, and uterine abnormalities.
  • Diagnosis involves assessing cervical length through ultrasound and monitoring uterine contractions.
  • Management may involve administering corticosteroids to enhance fetal lung maturity, tocolytic agents to delay delivery, and antibiotics if infection is suspected.
  • Close monitoring of maternal symptoms, fetal well-being, and potential complications is crucial.

5. Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a multisystem disorder characterized by hypertension and end-organ damage after 20 weeks of gestation. It can lead to severe complications for both the mother and the baby. Key points to remember include:

  • Preeclampsia is diagnosed based on hypertension (≥140/90 mmHg) and proteinuria (>300 mg/24 hours).
  • Management involves close monitoring of blood pressure, fetal well-being, and potential complications.
  • Delivery is the definitive treatment but should be balanced against the gestational age and severity of the disease.
  • Severe preeclampsia may require hospitalization and the administration of antihypertensive medications.


Understanding and recognizing pregnancy complications is essential for providing appropriate care to pregnant women. This USMLE guide highlighted common pregnancy complications, including hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes mellitus, placenta previa, preterm labor, and preeclampsia. Familiarizing yourself with the diagnosis, management strategies, and potential complications associated with these conditions will help you provide optimal care to your patients and excel in the USMLE examination

USMLE Test Prep
a StudyNova service


GuidesStep 1 Sample QuestionsStep 2 Sample QuestionsStep 3 Sample QuestionsPricing

Install App coming soon

© 2024 StudyNova, Inc. All rights reserved.