August 10, 2011

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment For Cholestasis During Pregnancy

Posted in Category : Women's Health

Cholestasis during pregnancy occurs when the bile produced by the liver is obstructed or stopped and is not able to flow out. When this condition occurs during pregnancy, it can also be called obstetric cholestasis of pregnancy or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or jaundice or pregnancy or even prurigo gravidarum.

While it’s not harmful to the mother during the course of the pregnancy, it can be harmful to the baby. If you see any symptoms you should immediately seek a doctor’s care. The main symptoms include intense itching often on the hands and legs. Dark-coloured urine and light-coloured stools are also other symptoms.

There is no definite cause but it could be related to the excess hormones in a pregnant woman’s body. Pregnancy can interfere with the normal working of the body. It could slow down or even stop entirely the movement of bile. You stand the risk of getting cholestasis if you are having twins, are having a baby through in vitro, have had cholestasis before or have a family history that suggests you could get it.

For a removal of this condition, doctors will suggest a multiple of methods. Since this condition can start in the second trimester, the doctor might prescribe blood tests to monitor the condition of the liver till you complete full term. Regular ultrasounds may also be prescribed so as to keep a watch on the baby. There is a threat that the baby could ingest the mecunium in this condition. The threat to the baby includes the baby suffering breathing trouble or even losing life late in the pregnancy. Early labour is often induced as part the treatment for cholestasis.

There are drugs that can help reduce the symptoms and improve the working of the liver without harming the baby. These drugs can cause mild diarrhoea though.

There aren’t any home remedies for cholestasis because the primary cause seems to be pregnancy hormones. As the threat to the foetus is very high, most doctors just wait till the baby lung capacity has matured and induce labour. Occasionally, after the birth of the baby, a treatment with vitamin K might be needed for the mother. This treatment is to prevent complications from bleeding. After the birth, cholestasis usually corrects itself. You need to bring it to your doctor’s attention if that does not happen with you.

If you have a sensitive liver, you might feel consequences of the cholestasis later in life too. You might experience itching before your menstruation cycle every month. Women who have cholestasis once should avoid using birth control pills that contain oestrogen.

There is one alternate natural treatment being currently researched. This treatment uses S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which is giving a naturally occurring substance, intravenously. Pregnant women, who were given this in the third trimester, claimed to have felt relief from the intense itching. But this treatment is still too new and not validated. Other treatments like dandelion root, activated charcoal, guar gum, and milk thistle can also help but most of these have contraindications for pregnancy.

If you have had it before, it will become very difficult to prevent cholestasis. But, in a first-time pregnancy, prevention might just be possible. Lecithin, which is type of unsaturated fat produced by the body, can help keep cholestasis at bay. Foods rich in lecithin include soy products; peanuts and safflower oil are good plant sources that can be included in the diet. There are dafiry and meat sources as well. But you also want to be sure and not incidentally increase your intake of fat. Soy products, also, during your pregnancy should be taken with care. Lecithin supplements are also available. But how these supplements react to pregnant women, is not known.