Affecting one in every thousand pregnant women, cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver disorder that affects the normal bile flow resulting in intense itching in the hands and legs. The primary cause of this pregnancy disorder is the production of excess estrogen hormone in the body.
These hormones affect the function of the gallbladder and react with the liver to suppress bile flow, thus leading to toxin buildup and excess bile acids in the body of the pregnant woman. This disorder usually affects women in the later stages of pregnancy especially after twenty weeks or so.
The bile acids, bilirubin, liver enzymes and other toxins building up in the bloodstream can lead to various problems in the pregnancy such as preterm birth, fetal distress or even stillbirth. Since the fetus depends on the mother to remove the waste matter from its body, a disorder can harm the unborn baby as well.
While any pregnant woman can suffer from this disorder, women carrying multiples or who have liver disorders are prone to suffering from this problem. Hereditary also plays a major role in increasing the risk of pregnancy with women who have mothers and sisters suffering from cholestasis being at risk of suffering this disorder.
The most common symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy is the itching especially in the hands and legs which becomes more intense at night. This might be accompanied by other signs such as pale stools, dark urine, exhaustion, loss of appetite and depression. In certain cases nausea and jaundice may also be observed.
Physical examination along with blood and urine tests may be required to diagnose the condition. Based on your pregnancy, extent of disease and tolerance levels treatment for the disease may be prescribed. To treat the itching, anti itch medications and those with corticosteroids may be prescribed.
Along with this emollients and soothing baths can help in relieving the itching caused by cholestasis. Medications for decreasing bile acid concentration can also help in effectively treating the problem. In addition to this regular blood test monitoring, ultrasounds and anti stress tests for the fetus may be recommended to keep the bile levels in check. If the disease poses a serious risk or threatens the baby then early delivery may be induced.