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Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2007 May 29;2:26.

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, AMC, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a cholestatic disorder characterized by (i) pruritus with onset in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, (ii) elevated serum aminotransferases and bile acid levels, and (iii) spontaneous relief of signs and symptoms within two to three weeks after delivery. ICP is observed in 0.4-1% of pregnancies in most areas of Central and Western Europe and North America, while in Chile and Bolivia as well as Scandinavia and the Baltic states roughly 5-15% and 1-2%, respectively, of pregnancies are associated with ICP. Genetic and hormonal factors, but also environmental factors may contribute to the pathogenesis of ICP. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy increases the risk of preterm delivery (19-60%), meconium staining of amniotic fluid (27%), fetal bradycardia (14%), fetal distress (22-41%), and fetal loss (0.4-4.1%), particularly when associated with fasting serum bile acid levels > 40 micromol/L. The hydrophilic bile acid ursodeoxycholic acid (10-20 mg/kg/d) is today regarded as the first line treatment for intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Delivery has been recommended in the 38th week when lung maturity has been established.

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