Health Watch: High-risk pregnancy monitoring

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes can begin without warning. Often, women will have no symptoms, but these are conditions that can create long-lasting health problems for both mother and baby. Some providers are using a first-of-its-kind monitoring system for moms at high risk.

Skylar Andrews was in perfect health when she became pregnant with her son Zayn. But toward the end of her pregnancy, Andrew's blood pressure skyrocketed.

"About 200 over 114," Andrews said.

Andrews had a condition called pre-eclampsia, dangerous for mom during pregnancy and after.

Hyagriv Simhan, MD, Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Magee-Womens Hospital said, "It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke over the lifetime about two and a half fold."

That's why doctors encouraged Andrews to check herself at home. With this portable cuff and a smartphone, she could. Thirty-eight-year-old Jessica Wolfe also needed high-tech support. After years of battling infertility, this was a big surprise.

"We still struggle with wow this is real. This is happening. We're gonna have a baby," Wolfe said.

Wolfe is considered higher risk. She has gestational diabetes.

An app on Wolfe's smartphone generates reminders to check her blood sugar four times a day and report back so doctors can respond.

"We want to be able to identify the patients who need a phone call and not just identify them when they show up in the emergency department," Dr. Simhan said.

Andrew's blood pressure is now back to normal. Two conditions made a little more manageable with the touch of a button.

Dr. Simham says the remote monitoring program also helps with compliance after pregnancy. Only about 40 percent of all women keep their post-partum appointments after they deliver. Ninety percent of the women who were enrolled in the remote monitoring program during pregnancy keep their appointments. Go to for more information.