Jaundice During Pregnancy - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments You Should Be Aware Of

Jaundice During Pregnancy

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Are you dismissing the nausea you experience through the day, as prolonged morning sickness of pregnancy? Do you think that you might be anemic during pregnancy, as you turn pale or even yellow? Are you aware that discoloration of the skin, loss of appetite and nausea are the classic symptoms of jaundice?

Pregnancy is an extremely important and crucial stage for both the mother and baby. You must pay extra attention to any health concern you face while expecting your baby as it will certainly have a direct or an indirect effect on your little one. One such disease to watch out for during pregnancy is jaundice. Jaundice is a condition that arises due to an underlying liver problem. Read on to know more about this disease, its symptoms, and treatment.

Causes Of Jaundice In Pregnancy

Jaundice is synonymous with a decline in liver function and may be a result of several reasons including:

  • Primary causes are liver disorders such as alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, acute fatty liver, primary biliary cirrhosis and viral hepatitis.
  • Liver cancer may cause jaundice.
  • Overdose of paracetamol may adversely affect the functioning of the liver and hamper its ability to filter out waste, causing jaundice.
  • Choledocholithiasis or the presence of stones in the common bile duct causes build up of bilirubin that leads to jaundice.
  • Malaria may cause inflammation of the liver and jaundice.
  • Sickle cell anemia is a genetic condition that causes the breakdown of red blood cells. It also results in a buildup of a waste product known as bilirubin.
  • HELLP syndrome, a life threatening condition that usually occurs in the later stages of pregnancy or even after childbirth.
  • Secondary causes like obesity, certain autoimmune diseases, and congenital malformation and high cholesterol levels may also lead to jaundice. The latter increases the risk of gallstones, which in turn disrupts the removal of bilirubin, leading to jaundice.

Symptoms of Jaundice In Pregnancy

Here is a list of the common symptoms of jaundice:

  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Yellowish tinge to the skin
  • Dark colored urine
  • Itching of the skin
  • Light colored stools
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Swelling around the liver region
  • Swelling of the legs, ankle, and feet

[ Read: Nausea During Pregnancy ]

Diagnosis of Jaundice In Pregnancy

After a physical examination, the doctor may ask you about any symptoms you have, or if you are taking any prescription drugs. Doctors usually diagnose jaundice with the help of the following steps:

  • The doctor may conduct a urine test to check for urobilinogen. The breaking down of bilirubin produces urobilinogen. Higher or lower levels of this compound may help the doctor confirm jaundice.
  • He may also ask you to go for a blood test to check if you are suffering from malaria or hepatitis.
  • Sometimes, the doctor may recommend a liver function test to check for alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatitis or other health conditions that could affect the liver.
  • To check for internal problems, the doctor may recommend you to go for an ultrasound.
  • In severe cases, the doctor may also suggest a liver biopsy to identify liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Treatment for Jaundice In Pregnancy

Your blood test (and if needed, a CT scan) reports will help your doctor confirm jaundice and identify its cause too. Jaundice is usually an indicator to an underlying problem. Your doctor will treat the underlying cause of your jaundice, keeping your pregnancy in mind:

  • Causes of jaundice like Hepatitis A, go away on its own and usually may not need treatment.
  • If your jaundice is a side-effect of Malaria, your doctor will suggest the right treatment to you.
  • In case jaundice during pregnancy is a result of cirrhosis, extreme hepatitis, or liver cancer it will demand serious medical attention.

[ Read: Malaria In Pregnancy ]

How To Prevent Jaundice During Pregnancy?

As there are various causes of jaundice, it is quite tough to point out to a specific preventive measure. However, most experts recommend taking the following steps to prevent jaundice during pregnancy.

1. A Healthy Diet:

Eating healthy and hygienic food throughout pregnancy will help you keep jaundice and other health issues at bay.

[ Read: Pregnancy Diet Chart ]

2. Healthy Weight:

Maintain a healthy weight and regulate the cholesterol levels in the blood by keeping fat intake under check. Follow your diet chart strictly.

3. Active Lifestyle:

Consult your doctor on safe exercises during pregnancy. It will help you ensure a proper supply of blood and oxygen to different parts of the body, including the liver.

4. Vaccinate Regularly:

Avoid hepatitis infections. Follow your gynecologist’s advice and accordingly get yourself vaccinated against the disease.

5. Limit Your Drug Intake:

Avoid the intake of medications or compounds that may be toxic to the liver. Avoid the overuse of OTC drugs. Consult your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy.

[ Read: Safe Drugs During Pregnancy ]

6. Be On Guard While Traveling:

Avoid traveling to regions that have breakout of diseases like malaria. If you must, always use preventive measures.

Do not worry about having jaundice during your pregnancy. Early detection guarantees that you and your baby will be safe. Seek medical opinion as soon as you note the symptoms of jaundice to avail early treatment and ensure a speedy recovery.

If you have undergone treatment for jaundice during your pregnancy, please share your experience and advice here.

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