Pregnancy

Pregnant residents of high altitude have an increased prevalence of hypertension, low-birthweight infants, and neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. However, an increased incidence of pregnancy complications in lowlanders who visit high altitude has not been reported. The normal Pa O2 of the fetus is 29 to 33 mmHg, and the mild maternal hypoxia induced by traveling to resort-type altitudes does not generate significantly more hypoxic stress. The few studies available suggest that exercise in pregnant women at altitudes of 2500 m is safe for mother and fetus.20 Until more data become available, pregnant patients should not be advised to curtail reasonable activities they wish to undertake. Perhaps of more concern than mild hypoxia is the fact that high altitude locations are often remote from medical facilities, and patients need to be aware that without access to sophisticated medical care, complications could have more serious consequences than at home.

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