Pregnant Christina Depino started feeling an incredible itch very late into the pregnancy.
Initially, the 28-year-old thought the scratching might be a result of the regular stretching during pregnancy and because she just moved to Monroe, Michigan, a drier climate in comparison with her previous home in Louisiana.
Thirty-six weeks into her pregnancy, Christiana was diagnosed with a disorder that impairs bile flow away from her liver.
The doctors that gave her the diagnosis told her that her baby could be subjected to severe complications, with stillbirth being a possibility if she didn’t deliver.
A week into later, she allowed the birth of her baby induced, and she delivered a healthy little girl.
She has a message to all mothers out there now, encouraging them to check themselves out if they feel any itch during pregnancy.
Christina DePino (pictured here with her husband Aaron) started feeling extreme itching on her whole body at the 36th week of her pregnancy. She was then diagnosed with Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).
ICP results from high hormone levels in pregnancy, which interrupts the line between the gall bladder and liver. Doctors informed Christina that there might be a severe risk to the child if she wasn’t delivered soon.
She could not control the pain she felt when she started feeling the itching throughout her whole body in the third trimester of her pregnancy.
She told reporters when interviewed, ‘The itching was so bad that I’d lay awake in the night on the bed, with my arms and legs crusted over and bleeding from the irrepressible urge to scratch.”
She took to her Facebook page at first to ask her friends what she could do or use to make her pains and itch go away; she also asked if anyone knew what was happening with her.
Some of the friends rightly pointed her in the right direction and suggested maybe she had intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), which is a severe medical condition for pregnant women that interferes with the bile flow from the liver.
It occurs in late pregnancy, kick-starting intense itching, frequently beginning on the hands and later to the feet, then to other body parts.
She went to see a doctor to get a professional opinion on her condition, she was tested many times until her liver function was checked, and the doctors then concluded she had ICP.
A pediatrician specialized in maternal-fetal medicine told Christina that her condition is usually as a result of high hormonal levels in pregnancy. This makes the bile from the liver get backed up into the bloodstream.
Some unusual cases have been recorded for some women with the disorder due to their genetic component, making them more susceptible than others.
Many complications exist due to ICP, and they can be so severe that it might result in the death of the unborn baby or premature birth late into the pregnancy.
Christina added, ‘The doctor told me that though all the reasons are not completely understood, mothers with ICP are at higher risk of losing their babies after 37 weeks.’
‘He added that getting induced for early birth was my choice and that it is possible for infants to survive the entire term.’
She and her husband made the decision not to take chances, and induce the birth earlier.
Christina and Aaron with their baby girl given birth to after inducing her mother.
Christina is encouraging expecting mothers not to ignore the symptoms.
Even though they escaped unscathed, the couple still could not shake the thought of what would have happened if Christiana had not checked herself into a hospital.
She later wrote on her Facebook page a message that went viral with more than 20,000 shares; she said, ‘If you are pregnant and itching badly, do not ignore it!’
The condition is known to be relatively rare, but she preaches her message nonetheless, she continued, ‘Don’t disregard any itch, getting just a blood test could save your child’s life.’
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) occurs late in pregnancy causing unbearable itches, starting late in the second or early third trimester of pregnancy, and to some women genetically susceptible. It is estimated that about a percent of pregnant women in the US are affected.
These are the signs and symptoms:
- Severe itching of the palms and feet (but not limited to them) without a rash.
- Itching increases in the night.
- Itching that will not subside with anti-itch remedies.
There is no way to guarantee the best outcome from ICP because it has no cure. Providers prescribe ursodeoxycholic acid for ICP sometimes because it dissolves gallstones and occurs naturally in bile.
The risk of having still birth increases to about 1.5 percent for parents with ICP from 0.5 percent for healthy pregnancies.
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