For mothers, cholestasis of pregnancy may temporarily hinder the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Itching usually resolves within a few days of delivery, and subsequent liver problems are uncommon — although cholestasis is likely to recur with other pregnancies.

For babies, the complications of cholestasis of pregnancy can be much more severe. For reasons not well understood, cholestasis of pregnancy increases the risk of preterm birth and meconium — a substance that lines the baby's intestines during pregnancy — in the amniotic fluid. If a baby inhales meconium during delivery, he or she may have trouble breathing. There's also a risk of fetal death late in pregnancy. Because of the potentially severe complications, labor is typically induced early.

Oct. 12, 2011