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Obstetric Cholestasis - IPC Medical Malpractice Lawyers

LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125

Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) which is also known as Obstetric Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver condition which may result in severe itching and jaundice. It is most common in the latter stages of pregnancy when hormone concentrations are at their highest levels. Approximately 1% of pregnancies are affected and women expecting more than one child and those who have had previous liver damage are at higher risk. ICP usually increases in intensity in subsequent pregnancies and the same mother may require earlier delivery for each successive child. If you have suffered from ICP and would like legal advice on medical malpractice just call the helpline to speak to our obstetric cholestasis medical malpractice lawyers.


Symptoms which vary in severity and type may include:


ICP results from a reduced flow of bile fluids which are produced by the liver and continues until the child is delivered. The condition may prove fatal to the unborn child unless it is recognized promptly and treated properly, usually by early delivery around the 35th to 38th week. The condition is often hereditary although it can skip several generations. Following complaint about abnormal itching a doctor should take a blood sample for evaluation and testing as follows:


Obstetric cholestasis of pregnancy can be difficult to diagnose however itching usually starts on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands and may extend to the rest of the body including the face, ears, mouth and head. One in five patients suffers from jaundice and some infants are born jaundiced and a similar number of mothers suffer from postpartum hemorrhage. ICP is associated with an increased risk for infant stillbirth, premature labor and fetal distress. Treatment requires a reduction in the bile acids in the bloodstream and early delivery of the child.

Obstetric Cholestasis Lawyers

ICP is relatively rare and many health care professionals are not knowledgeable about the proper procedures for dealing with this problem which can result in medical malpractice. We can help you to exercise your legal rights to obtain compensation. Our obstetric cholestasis medical malpractice lawyers will deal with your claim using a contingency fee arrangement which means if you don't succeed in receiving compensation then your lawyers won't get paid. You will receive a complete professional service from lawyers who specialise in claiming compensation for personal injury caused as a result of clinical negligence. For free advice without obligation just complete the contact form and an ICP medical malpractice lawyer will telephone you immediately to discuss your compensation claim without further obligation.

Obstetric Cholestasis - Medical Overview

Obstetric cholestasis is a complication of pregnancy that can happen in any pregnancy. It is sometimes difficult to diagnose so the midwife or obstetrician needs to have a high index of suspicion for obstetric cholestasis during the pregnancy or immediately following the pregnancy. Another name for obstetric cholestasis is intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or ICP. Doctors have just recently discovered how this particular condition occurs but the symptoms of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy have been known for a long time. It used to be that women had symptoms but doctors either didn't diagnose it or diagnosed it as something else.

Statistically speaking, about seven out of every 1000 pregnancies are complicated by obstetric cholestasis. There are probably more women out there with the disease but it just isn't diagnosed. It is a condition of the liver that only happens during pregnancy. What happens is that bile does not flow correctly into the duodenum and bile acids tend to back up into the blood from within the liver. Digestion suffers greatly and there isn't enough fat absorption, leading to fatty stools. The main symptom is extreme itching because bile acids under the skin are very itchy. In severe situations, there is jaundice of the skin and eyes from bile acids. It is a situation usually found in the third trimester of pregnancy but it can occur as early as the first trimester of the pregnancy.

The aetiology of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy is not known. There are some hereditary reasons behind getting the disease and about half of all women who have ICP have other family members who have liver problems. Women with ICP in pregnancy can have daughters with ICP during their pregnancies but because the disease is relatively rare, the exact mechanism of action is not clear.

Severe itching is the main complication of ICP. It tends to get progressively worse so that it disrupts all activities of daily living, including work, bathing, being comfortable in your house and sleeping. It is worse on the soles of the feet and on the palms of the hands but can affect any body part. Only around 20 percent of individuals with ICP will go on to have eye or skin jaundice. Other common symptoms seen in ICP include pale stools, loss of appetite, dark urine, tiredness and mild depression. Even things like severe depression, right upper quadrant abdominal pain and nausea or vomiting can occur. The biggest risk to the foetus is prematurity and about 44 percent of these women will end up having a baby before 37 weeks gestation. There can be uterine haemorrhage, foetal distress or still birth.

It is important to diagnose obstetric cholestasis as early as possible so the pregnancy can be surveilled and monitored closely for severe complications. Itching is a good way to pay attention to the severity of the disease as more itching means a more serious disease. Doctors can do blood tests to check for the presence of bilirubin in the blood or bile acids in the blood. The bile acid test isn't done by many laboratories so it may take a while to get the results back to help the patient. If a woman is past the 34 week mark, she should be managed as though she has disease if she has the symptoms because the results won't come back in time. Repeated liver enzyme testing should be done to see how much damage is going on to the liver.

Treatment does exist for ICP. Women are given Actigall, a medication usually given for patients with gall stones. It seems to reduce the risk of still birth and the symptoms of itching usually get better. Some women are given corticosteroids during the pregnancy so as to maximize the chances of the lung maturity of the infant if it happens to be born before 37 weeks gestation. Vitamin K therapy is given because it is not usually absorbed during ICP. Corticosteroids are also commonly given in order to reduce the degree of itching the woman has.

LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here