Cholestasis of Pregnancy: What You Should Know

Mother just giving birth and has ICPPregnancy brings out different types of health issues to expectant mothers. Some of these issues can be a problem, and many ask what they can do about it. Among these, cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver disease that can develop late in the second or third trimester.

Among many complications, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition that triggers intense itching. While this disease is annoying and uncomfortable, it’s much more dangerous than some people think. One reason is because this disease has potential complications for the baby if your doctor does not do their job right.

Did you think your doctor did not provide the duty of care they owe you when you experienced cholestasis of pregnancy? You need a veteran lawyer to uphold your rights. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy?

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a prenatal disease that causes severe itching. It happens late into the pregnancy, around the third trimester. It creates a temporary impairment of the lower liver’s function, which causes complications.

ICP causes bile, the substance in the liver that helps digestion, to build up. It stays in the bloodstream of the mother for too long and, once it reaches a certain level, it causes itching.

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a common liver disease in pregnant women. Statistics show that as much as 1 in 500 to 1000 pregnant women can develop the problem. Some women of different ethnicities are more likely to develop it, including:

  • Scandinavians
  • Chileans
  • Indians
  • Pakistanis

The typical development period of ICP comes during the third trimester because of the extreme hormone levels. There are also some risk factors associated with an increase in chances for cholestasis of pregnancy.

Personal or family history of ICP often increases your risk for it due to potential genetic inheritance. Any history of liver damage or diseases can also increase your risk for ICP. Pregnancy for twins or more also pushes your liver and hormones to the limit and can overwork your liver.

Signs and Symptoms of ICP

So, what are the symptoms of cholestasis of pregnancy? The most apparent sign of ICP is pruritus, also known as severe itching. The itching will start on the extremities, from the hands to the feet. They will start spreading on the entire body until it comes to the torso.

The itching will also be worse at night time but will not have a rash. It can be bothersome and can cause a lack of sleep for the mother. The itching will feel worse as your due date approaches.

Some other potential symptoms of ICP include:

  • Jaundice – the yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Constant fatigue
  • Pain in the upper right area of the gut
  • Light-colored stool

When compared to the itching, these other symptoms are less common. Some pregnant women have a chance of not experiencing them at all.

Diagnosis of Cholestasis of Pregnancy

How do doctors diagnose intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy? If you feel severely itchy upon approaching your third trimester, it’s best to give your doctor a visit. From here, your doctor will provide you with a physical examination and perform blood tests.

The doctor will look towards the bile acid levels in your blood, making sure that your liver works normally. The doctors must be able to differentiate between ICP and other potential liver issues. Some health problems, like preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, can present the same symptoms.

Most lab tests need to return total bile acid levels of 10 mmol/l or above to confirm you have cholestasis. Your doctor will likely ask for consistent lab tests to monitor your condition.

Treatment for ICP

As for the treatment of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, doctors can follow different methods. Doctors use ursodeoxycholic acid, which improves the liver’s ability to function. It also reduces the levels of bile in the blood.

Doctors will provide anti-itch medication to reduce the itching, and they will ask you to wear soft, loose clothes. Bed rest can help too.

If nothing works, the next best treatment the doctor can give you is to request an early delivery. Earlier delivery reduces the risk of severe infant complications, including stillbirth and premature birth. Doctors will induce labor at around week 37 to week 38 to mitigate further risks.

What to Do If You Experience Cholestasis of Pregnancy

Cholestasis of pregnancy does not pose significant long-term threats to the mother. Still, it can be dangerous for the baby. If you are experiencing ICP, make sure your doctor is doing their job right. Any bad advice, unneeded risk, or misdiagnosis is tantamount to medical malpractice.

If you or your loved ones are a victim of a doctor’s incompetence, these are grounds for medical malpractice. Thus, it’s crucial to find an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you claim for the right compensation. Don’t let other people experience the same fate as you.

Claim your rightful compensation from medical malpractice. Consult a veteran medical malpractice attorney now and find out what is due to you.


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