Cholestasis of Pregnancy
What is cholestasis of pregnancy?
What causes cholestasis of pregnancy?
|The gallbladder is an organ attached to the lower part of the liver. It serves as a holding reservoir for bile that is produced in the liver. Bile acids are important in the breakdown of fats in digestion. Waste products in the blood are converted to a part of bile called bilirubin. |
It is thought that hormones in pregnancy affect gallbladder function, resulting in slowing or stopping of the flow of bile. This causes a build up of bile acids in the liver, which can spill into the bloodstream causing itching. Jaundice may also result when bilirubin levels build up.
Why is cholestasis of pregnancy a concern?
|Cholestasis may increase the risks for fetal distress, preterm birth, or stillbirth. It may also increase the mother's risk of postpartum hemorrhage (severe bleeding following delivery).|
What are the symptoms of cholestasis of pregnancy?
|The following are the most common symptoms of cholestasis of pregnancy. However, each woman may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include: |
The symptoms of cholestasis may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How is cholestasis of pregnancy diagnosed?
|In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, generalized severe itching without a rash is often the first clue to diagnosis. Blood tests for liver function, bile acids, and bilirubin often show changes which may also aid in the diagnosis.|
Treatment for cholestasis of pregnancy:
|Specific treatment for cholestasis of pregnancy will be determined by your physician based on: |
The goals of treating cholestasis of pregnancy are to relieve the itching and prevent complications. Itching may be treated with topical anti-itch medications or with corticosteroids. Medication is sometimes used to help decrease the concentration of bile acids. Vitamin K may also be used if blood clotting factors are abnormal. Fetal monitoring tests may be used to check the well-being of the fetus. If cholestasis of pregnancy endangers the well-being of the mother or fetus, then an early delivery may be necessary.
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