Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: maternal and fetal outcomes associated with elevated bile acid levels

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Jan;212(1):100.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.07.026. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Objective: The primary aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between pregnancy outcome and bile acid (BA) levels in pregnancies that were affected by intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). In addition, correlations between maternal and fetal BA levels were explored.

Study design: We conducted a retrospective study that included women with pruritus and BA levels ≥10 μmol/L between January 2005 and August 2012 in 3 large hospitals in the Netherlands. The study group was divided in mild (10-39 μmol/L), moderate (40-99 μmol/L), and severe (≥100 μmol/L) ICP. Main outcome measures were spontaneous preterm birth, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, asphyxia, and perinatal death. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to study associations between BA levels and adverse outcome.

Results: A total of 215 women were included. Gestational age at diagnosis and gestational age at delivery were significantly lower in the severe, as compared with the mild, ICP group (P < .001). Spontaneous preterm birth (19.0%), meconium-stained fluid (47.6%), and perinatal death (9.5%) occurred significantly more often in cases with severe ICP. Higher BA levels were associated significantly with spontaneous preterm birth (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.28), meconium-stained amniotic fluid (aOR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.06-1.25), and perinatal death (aOR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.01-1.57). Maternal BA levels at diagnosis and at delivery were correlated positively with umbilical cord blood BA levels (P = .006 and .012, respectively).

Conclusion: Severe ICP is associated with adverse pregnancy outcome. Levels of BA correlate between mother and fetus.

Keywords: adverse pregnancy outcome; bile acid; intrahepatic cholestasis; perinatal death.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood*
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / blood*
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / complications*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Fetus
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Bile Acids and Salts

Supplementary concepts

  • Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy