Having high levels of uric acid is typically associated with gout, a form of arthritis. Yet it can also be an important sign during pregnancy. A high uric acid level puts you at risk for both gestational hypertension and diabetes. You may also be at greater risk for a serious condition called preeclampsia. Getting proper prenatal care to monitor this and other health indicators is vital for the health of you and your baby.
Your body metabolizes substances called purines, which are present in your body and can also be consumed through your diet. The breakdown of these substances creates a chemical called uric acid. Your kidneys normally excrete most of this acid through your urine. A normal uric acid level for women is 2.4 to 6 mg/dL, according to the NYU Medical Center. Normal test readings vary depending on the facility, however. When you have excessive amounts of uric acid your kidneys may not be able to adequately remove it from the body. This leads to a buildup of the chemical in your blood.
Having a higher uric acid level can increase your chances of having complications during pregnancy. Uric acid levels in the upper normal range during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy are associated with greater risk for gestational diabetes and mild preeclampsia, according to findings published in September 2010 in the journal, "Hypertension in Pregnancy." Gestational diabetes develops in about 4 percent of pregnant women, the American Diabetes Association reports. In this condition, your body is unable to properly produce or use the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar. Preeclampsia is diagnosed when you have hypertension that develops after your 20th week of pregnancy; the presence of protein in your urine is also indicative of the condition.
Uncontrolled gestational diabetes may cause your unborn baby to develop high blood sugar as well. The high level of glucose in your blood can enter the placenta. The excess glucose, typically burned off for energy, is then stored as fat on your baby's body. This ups the risk for a number of health problems including breathing difficulty after birth and a greater chance for becoming obese or having Type 2 diabetes. Preeclampsia can lead to organ damage and complicated delivery; left untreated, it can be fatal for both you and your baby.
High uric acid levels are indicative of improper body function or a health condition, such as kidney disease. If you have any health problems, working with your doctor is essential for maintaining a low-risk pregnancy. One factor that increases your chances of having high uric acid is obesity, so getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy is ideal. Obesity raises you risk for developing gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia as well. Eating healthy, nutritious foods and keeping active -- under your doctor's direction -- should be priorities before and during pregnancy.
Is This an Emergency?
- NYU Medical Center; Uric Acid in Blood; Maria Essig
- "Hypertension in Pregnancy"; High Uric Acid Level During the First 20 Weeks of Pregnancy Associated with Higher Risk for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus and Mild Preeclampsia.; T Wolak, et al.; September 2010
- American Diabetes Association: What is Gestational Diabetes?
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
- MayoClinic.com; Gestational Diabetes: Risk Factors; March 2011