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Thursday, June 25, 2009



The classic signs and symptoms of pregnancy — tender breasts, nausea, fatigue, weight gain — probably come as no surprise. But what about itchy skin? In late pregnancy, a condition known as cholestasis of pregnancy may trigger intense itching, particularly on the hands and feet.

By definition, cholestasis is any condition in which the flow of bile — a digestive fluid — from the liver is blocked. Extrahepatic cholestasis occurs outside the liver. Intrahepatic cholestasis occurs inside the liver. Pregnancy is one of many possible causes of intrahepatic cholestasis. Other names for cholestasis of pregnancy include obstetric cholestasis and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.

Other than intense itching, cholestasis of pregnancy poses few problems for mothers. Cholestasis of pregnancy can be dangerous for a developing baby, however. Early delivery is usually recommended.


Signs and symptoms of cholestasis of pregnancy may include:

  • Intense itching
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Light-colored bowel movements
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Abdominal pain

Often, however, intense itching — particularly on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet — is the only symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy. The itching may be worse, even intolerable, at night. The itching is most common during the third trimester of pregnancy, but sometimes