high elevation pregnancy is different than living at lower elevationsQuestion: I live at a high altitude…I’m worried because I’ve heard that this can cause problems during pregnancy. Is this true?

Answer: As you’re familiar with breathing the thinner air where you live, you’ll be far less likely to run into issues in your pregnancy relating to altitude than someone who’s just arrived. Women who live at high elevations do run a very small chance of complications like hypertension, water retention, and giving birth to a smaller baby.

Good prenatal care, a healthy diet, gaining enough weight, and avoiding drugs and alcohol will greatly reduce these risks. So will avoiding tobacco smoke-both yours and secondhand smoke. Smoking denies babies oxygen and development and appears to do further damage at higher elevations. It’s been seen to more than double the decrease in average birth weight. Intense exercise can also deprive your baby of oxygen in high elevations. So it’s smart to walk briskly instead of jogging, for example.