High-risk pregnancies are on the rise in the United States and may be more common now than at any other time since modern obstetric care became available.
Why? More fortysomething moms are having babies, and epidemics of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are causing pregnancy and birth complications.
But in this otherwise troubling trend is also some good news: A small but growing number of women are successfully having children despite life-threatening conditions that once made a safe pregnancy almost inconceivable.
Exact numbers are not available, but doctors say that tens of thousands of organ transplant recipients, breast cancer survivors, women with heart defects, and even women with the AIDS virus have decided to risk childbearing in the last several years.
Not all of these stories have happy endings, and many people worry that some of these women will not live long enough to raise their children, or that they will pass on their medical problems.
But most results have been so surprisingly good that they are overturning decades of gloomy dogma about who is medically fit to have a child.