Fetal cardiac dysfunction in pregnancies affected by intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: A cohort study

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2022 Jul;48(7):1658-1667. doi: 10.1111/jog.15283. Epub 2022 May 12.


Aim: To analyze the presence of fetal myocardial dysfunction in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) at diagnosis.

Methods: This prospective cohort study included 49 pregnant participants with ICP at diagnosis and 49 nonaffected controls from a single public hospital. ICP was diagnosed based on clinical symptoms after excluding other causes of pruritus and presence of autoimmune diseases. Total bile acids were not obtained in this cohort. ICP pregnancies were assessed with a functional echocardiography at diagnosis including PR-interval, isovolumetric contraction time (ICT), ejection time (ET), and isovolumetric relaxation time (IRT) for electrical, systolic, and diastolic function, respectively. Controls were assessed at recruitment. Perinatal outcomes were obtained from delivery books. The main outcome was the presence of PR-interval prolongation or first-degree fetal heart block, and echographic signs of diastolic and systolic dysfunction.

Results: Compared to controls, ICP were above upper limit in conjugated bilirubin (2.0% vs. 20.4%; p = 0.008), aspartate aminotransferase (2.0% vs. 24.5%; p = 0.002), and alanine aminotransferase (4.1% vs. 28.6%; p = 0.002). ICP was associated with a higher PR-interval (130 ± 12 ms vs. 121 ± 6 ms; p < 0.0001) with five first-degree fetal heart blocks. IRT was significantly higher in ICP (42 ± 6 ms vs. 37 ± 5 ms; p = 0.0001), with no differences in ICT and ET. PR-interval trend was only positively correlated with IRT in ICP pregnancies (p = 0.04 and p = 0.34, in ICP and controls, respectively).

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that fetuses affected by maternal ICP are associated with electrical and diastolic myocardial dysfunction. More studies focused on antenatal and postnatal functional echocardiography are necessary to validate our results and consider these markers in the clinical management of ICP pregnancies.

Keywords: PR-interval; diastolic dysfunction; echocardiography; intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy; isovolumetric relaxation time.

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic* / complications
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Heart Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / diagnosis
  • Prospective Studies


  • Bile Acids and Salts

Supplementary concepts

  • Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy