Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP)


Do you have recent experience of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy?

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Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), (formerly known as Obstetric Cholestasis or OC), is a liver disorder where the normal flow of bile out of the liver is reduced. It occurs in around one in 140 pregnancies in the UK.

Pregnancy and itching

It is important that if you are pregnant and itching, you should check with your doctor or midwife. A simple blood test (see below) is required to diagnose ICP. It may be helpful to have this page or the booklet to hand to show them.

What is bile?

Bile is a yellow-green fluid produced by your liver which contains:

  • chemicals to aid digestion, including bile acids
  • waste products for excretion via the bowel.

Bile passes from the liver cells via small ducts to the common bile duct and on into the duodenum (part of your gut). It plays a central role in helping the body digest fat. It acts as a detergent, breaking the fat into very small droplets so that it can be absorbed from food in your gut. It also makes it possible for your body to take up the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the food passing through the gut.