Obstetric cholestasis is a condition of the liver that affects some pregnant women. If not identified and treated properly, it can pose an increased risk to the baby and could even prove fatal. If your family has been affected by medical negligence of this type, Hospital Negligence can help you make a successful obstetric cholestasis claim to secure the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation discussion about your case today by giving us a call on 0800 014 7481, or allow us to call you back at a time convenient for you by completing our online enquiry form.
Explaining Obstetric Cholestasis
Obstetric Cholestasis is a liver disorder that affects approximately 1% of pregnant women and continues until delivery. The condition results from a reduced flow of bile fluids that are produced by the liver and often the only symptom is itching, particularly on the hands and feet. The itching disappears within a week or two of delivery, however the condition does pose an increased risk of harm to the baby and may prove fatal unless recognised promptly and treated properly.
The condition can be unbearable for the mother, but the greatest risk is to the unborn baby, who will need to be delivered early - around the 35th to 38th week - to help prevent the possibility of stillbirth. Subsequent pregnancies for the same mother may require earlier delivery than the first baby, as obstetric cholestasis usually increases in intensity in subsequent pregnancies.
Medical research indicates that high levels of oestrogen produced during pregnancy inhibit bile flow, which creates a build-up of bile salts in the blood resulting in itching and, occasionally, jaundice. The build-up of bile salts poses a danger to the unborn child that becomes all the greater in the latter stages of pregnancy and can result in stillbirth.
The latest research suggests this is linked to increased oestrogen levels, including for those carrying twins - who have an increased incidence of the disease - and that it is often a hereditary condition and can skip several generations. Any pregnant woman who believes that she is itching more than normal should seek professional help, which usually means having a doctor take a blood sample for evaluation of liver function. If liver function is abnormal and, after eliminating all other possible diseases and disorders, a diagnosis may be made. This condition is relatively rare and many midwives, doctors and other medical staff are not knowledgeable about the proper procedures for handling this disease.
The symptoms of obstetric cholestasis may be difficult to diagnose until the patient is very ill. However, itching usually starts on the soles of the feet and the palms, extending to the rest of the body. It can involve the face, ears, mouth and head and is usually worst during the night, which can lead to the following for the mother:
- Sleep deprivation
- Mental fatigue
Mild jaundice affects about 20% of patients and some babies are born jaundiced. Nausea and vomiting can also be present throughout pregnancy and 50% of mothers get urinary tract infections. Mothers may suffer from malabsorption of vitamins or worsening maternal nutrition, and there is about a 20% risk of postpartum haemorrhage, which may be caused by inadequate absorption of vitamin K needed for the blood to clot.
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Discuss your potential obstetric cholestasis claim with us today by calling us for free on 0800 014 7481 or allow us to give you a call back by completing our online enquiry form. We are here to provide all of the guidance you need to give you the very best chance of securing a successful outcome.