Cholestasis of pregnancy or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy refers to a liver condition, which takes place in women during their late pregnancy. The condition causes intensive itching but does not cause any rash. Itching often takes place on the women’s feet and hands, but may even take place in other body parts. Cholestasis of Pregnancy may make a woman uncomfortable and cause potential complications to both the mother and the baby. Based on risks and complications, doctors recommend for premature delivery of the affected woman.(1)
How Does Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Affect The Body?
Complications and negative effects from intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy may take place both in the unborn baby and in the pregnant woman.
In mothers, the condition may affect temporarily on the way, in which her body absorbs fat. Poor fat absorption thus leads to a reduction in Vitamin-K levels and its dependent factors in the clotting of blood. However, the complication takes place rarely and hardly cause liver problems in the near future.
If we talk about the basis, the complications associated with cholestasis of pregnancy are relatively more severe. These include-
- Preterm birth i.e. too early birth of the baby
- Lung problems because of breathing in a sticky green colored substance i.e. meconium, which usually collects in the intestines of a developing baby but passes within the amniotic fluid
- Death of the unborn baby during the later months of pregnancy i.e. a before delivery
As complications in the case of the unborn children are relatively more severe and sometimes, life-threatening ones, your doctor recommends labor or c-section before the due date.(3)
What Triggers Cholestasis Of Pregnancy?
A pregnant woman may suffer from cholestasis because of the mentioned risk factors-
- If a woman has any of her close relatives suffered from the same problem
- If the woman experienced cholestasis in her previous pregnancy/pregnancies, as the recurrence risk in a subsequent pregnancy is about 45% to 90%
- When a conceived woman has multiple pregnancy i.e. triplets or twins
- If a woman has a history related to liver damage
- When a woman conceived because of in-vitro fertilization, abbreviated as IVF(5)
The liver of a person produces and the gallbladder stores bile i.e. a yellow and green colored fluid, which helps in the digestion of fat. It often comprises of bile salts, cholesterol and a pigment called bilirubin. Bile passes from one’s gallbladder towards a common bile duct and enters the duodenum. In some cases, the bile fails to leave one’s liver because of a blockage created outside of it. This results in a condition called extrahepatic cholestasis. However, cholestasis of pregnancy takes place whenever there is an issue in the elimination of bile salts from the conceived woman’s liver. Doctors consider pregnancy hormones as major triggers to cause the problem. Particularly, the additional amount of estrogen may lead to improper functioning of the liver and the gallbladder.(4)
Symptoms Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy
Women suffering from cholestasis of pregnancy experience the following major signs and symptoms-
- Intensive itching on palm area and sole area of the hands and the feet respectively
- Light-colored feces and dark urine
- Jaundice, which leads to orangey tinge or yellowish of the tongue and skin, along with whites of one’s eyes
- Even though other symptoms seldom take place in a pregnant woman suffering from cholestasis, she may experience itching and that too in its severe form during the night.(2)
To conclude, we should say that cholestasis of pregnancy affects both the mother and the baby adversely and even it may cause death to the unborn child. Also, doctors have considered the problem takes place because of the estrogen hormone, even though the exact cause is still unknown. Moreover, a woman may remain at risk to suffer from cholestasis because of a few risk factors, including the pregnancy taken place via IVF.
- What is Cholestasis of Pregnancy or Obstetric Cholestasis?
- Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy An Emergency & Can It Be Reversed?
- What Are The First Symptoms Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy & How Do You Test For It?
- What Happens To Untreated Cholestasis Of Pregnancy & When To Go To Doctor?
- Who Is At Risk For Cholestasis Of Pregnancy & Is There A Blood Test For It?
- Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Dangerous & How Does It Affect The Baby?