What is Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
Cholestasis of pregnancy (COP) is a liver disorder that can occur during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It is characterized by a buildup of bile salts in the mother’s bloodstream, resulting in itching, a yellowing of the skin, and jaundice, and can require extensive treatment.
How Common is Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
Cholestasis of pregnancy is relatively rare – occurring in 1 to 2 of every 1,000 pregnancies – but is more common in certain populations. The risk of COP increases if the mother is:
- Carriers of the recessive gene for familial intrahepatic cholestasis
- Of Scandinavian descent
- In her third trimester
Furthermore, the risk of recurrence in a subsequent pregnancy increases with each previous episode of COP.
Who is Most at Risk of Developing Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
While COP is relatively uncommon, it can still affect pregnancy outcomes or cause complications. Women who have a family history of the condition or are carrying multiple babies are more likely to experience COP. Additionally, some pregnant women who take certain medications, such as antibiotics, may be more vulnerable to the risks associated with COP.
How is Cholestasis of Pregnancy Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of COP generally involves two blood tests measuring levels of bile salts. If the results of the first test show elevated bile salts, it is referred to as an “indeterminate” result, and a second test is performed a week later to confirm the diagnosis.
What are the Symptoms of Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
The most common symptom of COP is intense itching, which typically begins in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Other symptoms of COP can include:
- Jaundice – yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes
- Dark urine – due to increased bilirubin in the bloodstream
- Light-colored stools – caused by the decrease in bile
- Nausea – due to the buildup of bile acids in the stomach
These symptoms are often accompanied by a feeling of general discomfort or extreme fatigue.
In conclusion, Cholestasis of Pregnancy is a rare but serious condition that can have a significant impact on pregnancy outcomes. The good news is that it can be easily diagnosed and managed with proper medical care. If you experience any of the symptoms of COP, seek medical advice right away.
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