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How Common Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Or Is It A Rare Disease?

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a type of liver problem, which stops or slows the regular bile flow from the woman’s gallbladder. The problem thus causes yellowing of your eyes and skin, along with itching and mucous membranes or jaundice in the severe form. Cholestasis often takes place during the second and third trimesters but most of the cases go away only within a few days of your delivery. When the bile presents at a relatively high level, it causes multiple severe problems to the fetus i.e. the developing baby.

How Common Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Or Is It A Rare Disease?

How Common Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

Whether the disease of cholestasis of pregnancy is common or rare depends on a specific area or country. According to the studies revealed by experts and other relevant statistics, obstetric cholestasis is a rare type of disease. However, by analyzing it as per the country, we should say that the problem affects about 7 women from a total of 1,000 women i.e. hardly equal to 1 percent population.

On the other side, if we talk about the scenario in India and other Asian countries, approximately 15 women from a total of 1000 women suffer from the problem i.e. approximately 1.5% of the total population.(2)

Other than this, the cholestasis problem takes place in 1 from a total of 1,000 pregnancies even though the problem is common in ethnic groups of Chilean and Swedish areas. Also, the problem commonly takes place when a woman remains during her pregnancy’s last trimester i.e. the duration, in which pregnancy hormones remain at the peak.(3)

Obstetric cholestasis or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy remains present in about 1% of pregnant women living in different regions of the United States. The problem mainly takes place because of the combination of hormonal, genetic and environmental factors. Common risks include-

  • Family or personal history related to the cholestasis of pregnancy
  • History related to liver problems
  • Condition of triplets, twins or similar type of multiple gestation pregnancy

About 15% of cholestasis patients experience mutation in either of the ABCB4 or ABCB11 genes. Genetic mutations in both of these cases will increase the probability of a conceiving woman to develop ICP. Each of these mutations inherits in an autosomal dominant way. Accordingly, an individual requires only one chance in a particular copy of the respective gene present in each of the cells. In some of the cases, affected people inherit the problem of mutation from their affected parents. As per the statistics, any individual with mutations in either of the ABCB4 or ABCB11 genes has a 50% chance with each of the pregnancies to pass across the altered gene to the child.(4)

In the last case, we will talk about the condition of Latina women, according to which approximately 5 from a total of 100 Latina women i.e. 5% are ICP patients.(5)

Symptoms Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

A severe type of itching but without any skin rash is the prime symptom associated with cholestasis of pregnancy, which doctors often call it pruritus. Even though itching may take place in almost any body part, it is common on the soles and palms of one’s feet and hands respectively. The problem becomes worse during nighttime. Besides itching, the problem has various other symptoms, which include the following-

  • Abdominal or belly pain in rare condition
  • The light color of your stool or slow in the bowel movement
  • The yellow color of your eyes, skin and mucous membrane i.e. jaundice even though it is an uncommon issue.

What Leads To Cholestasis Of Pregnancy?

Until now, doctors do not have any knowledge about the exact cause related to the cholestasis of pregnancy. However, they have an idea of the procedure, which consists of-

The liver is responsible to make bile and the bile further breaks down the fat substances at the time of digestion

The gallbladder of a person stores the bile

Hormones released by a person’s body during her pregnancy changes the overall function of the gallbladder. This results in stopping the flowing or slow functioning of the bile.(1)


To conclude, we should say that obstetric cholestasis of pregnancy is a rare disease in almost every area of the world.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 14, 2020

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