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World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov 21;19(43):7639-46. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i43.7639.

Liver diseases in pregnancy: diseases unique to pregnancy.

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  • 1Khulood T Ahmed, Ashraf A Almashhrawi, Rubayat N Rahman, Ghassan M Hammoud, Jamal A Ibdah, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65212, United States.


Pregnancy is a special clinical state with several normal physiological changes that influence body organs including the liver. Liver disease can cause significant morbidity and mortality in both pregnant women and their infants. This review summarizes liver diseases that are unique to pregnancy. We discuss clinical conditions that are seen only in pregnant women and involve the liver; from Hyperemesis Gravidarum that happens in 1 out of 200 pregnancies and Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (0.5%-1.5% prevalence), to the more frequent condition of preeclampsia (10% prevalence) and its severe form; hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and a low platelet count syndrome (12% of pregnancies with preeclampsia), to the rare entity of Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy (incidence of 1 per 7270 to 13000 deliveries). Although pathogeneses behind the development of these aliments are not fully understood, theories have been proposed. Some propose the special physiological changes that accompany pregnancy as a precipitant. Others suggest a constellation of factors including both the mother and her fetus that come together to trigger those unique conditions. Reaching a timely and accurate diagnosis of such conditions can be challenging. The timing of the condition in relation toward which trimester it starts at is a key. Accurate diagnosis can be made using specific clinical findings and blood tests. Some entities have well-defined criteria that help not only in making the diagnosis, but also in classifying the disease according to its severity. Management of these conditions range from simple medical remedies to measures such as immediate termination of the pregnancy. In specific conditions, it is prudent to have expert obstetric and medical specialists teaming up to help improve the outcomes.


Acute fatty liver; Eclampsia; Hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and a low platelet count; Hyperemesis gravidarum; Intrahepatic cholestasis; Liver; Preeclampsia; Pregnancy

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