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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1988 Nov;95(11):1137-43.

Fetal outcome in obstetric cholestasis.

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  • 1Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


Obstetric cholestasis has been associated with a high incidence of stillbirth and perinatal complications. Between 1975 and 1984, 83 pregnancies were complicated by cholestasis. Meconium staining occurred in 45%, spontaneous preterm labour in 44%, and intrapartum fetal distress in 22%. Of 86 infants two were stillborn and one died soon after birth. Perinatal mortality fell from 107 in a previous series from this hospital (1965-1974) to 35/1000 in this series. Cardiotocography, estimations of oestriol, liver function tests and ultrasonic assessment of amniotic fluid volume failed to predict fetal compromise, whereas amniocentesis revealed meconium in 8 of 26 pregnancies. Early intervention was indicated in 49 pregnancies, 12 because of fetal compromise. This study suggests that intensive fetal surveillance, including amniocentesis for meconium, and induction of labour at term or with a mature lecithin/sphyngomyelin ratio, may reduce the stillbirth rate in this 'high-risk' condition.

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