Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Dangerous & How Does It Affect The Baby?

Cholestasis of pregnancy is also known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis. It occurs when the bile from the liver is unable to travel to the digestive tract for helping indigestion. As a result, the bile gets accumulated in the liver itself, ultimately entering the blood. It can lead to extreme itching, which especially develops on hands and feet and, is quite severe during the night (1)

Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Dangerous?

Is Cholestasis Of Pregnancy Dangerous?

Cholestasis of pregnancy can be extremely uncomfortable for you. However, the complications that it may cause are even more worrisome and your doctor may need you to go for early delivery. The complications of cholestasis of pregnancy in moms include –

The temporary effect may be seen in the way of your body’s fat absorption. Poor fat absorption may lead to reduced levels of vitamin K related factors like blood clotting. However, it is a rare scenario and liver-related problems are quite uncommon.

How Does It Affect The Baby?

Babies may face severe complications due to cholestasis of pregnancy, like

  • Preterm birth
  • Lung problems due to meconium breathing
  • Stillbirth(2)

Symptoms Of Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

Intense or extreme itching is the most significant indication of cholestasis of pregnancy. The bottoms of the feet and palms of your hand are the commonest places where extreme itching is experienced. In any case, you may experience itching at any place on the body. The itching is harsher around night-time and many times is inconvenient to such an extent that you can’t figure out how to get rest. Some different signs and symptoms may incorporate sickness or nausea, loss of appetite and yellowness of the eye-whites and skin (jaundice)

The itching sensation is common during the third trimester of your pregnancy. In any case, a few women may get it significantly sooner than that. It is normally more awful as you approach the finish of your pregnancy. However, when the child is born, it normally blurs away or dies down within a couple of days.(2)

The precise reason why cholestasis happens in pregnancy is yet indistinct. There is a theory that genetic qualities may play a role in it. Similarly, in some cases, this condition is observed to be running in families. A few studies guess that hormones in pregnancy may likewise play a role in the development of this condition. As the pregnancy advances to the due date, the hormone level additionally increases. Studies show that the expanded hormone levels might be answerable for hampering the progression of bile from the liver to the digestive tract. Therefore, rather than traveling and reaching the digestive tract, the bile aggregates in the liver itself. At last, the bile salts land in the circulatory system and cause the itching, which is the essential symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy.(2)

Risk Factors For Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

Some factors can elevate your risk of developing this condition. These factors may include-

  • A history of cholestasis in the family or a prior personal history
  • A known liver disorder or an injury to the liver
  • Having a twin pregnancy or even more than that

Also, if in your previous pregnancy, you have developed cholestasis, the chances are that you might develop it again in your next pregnancy. And the chances of recurrence are as high as 65 to 70 percent in consecutive pregnancies.(2)

There is no known cause for the development of cholestasis of pregnancy. Hence, it is not possible to prevent this condition


Cholestasis of pregnancy can lead to severe complications, especially in the baby. One such complication is a stillbirth. Hence, it is extremely important to get yourself checked by your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms suggestive of this condition.


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