Does the timing of abnormal blood tests in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy affect the risk of stillbirth?

Study code

Lead researcher
Professor Catherine Williamson

Study type
Data only

Institution or company
King's College London

Researcher type

Speciality area
Reproductive Health, Haematology


Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a liver disorder of pregnancy. Affected patients experience itching, and it is diagnosed by measuring high bile acids in the mother’s blood.

When the mother’s bile acid levels are very high (more than 100μmol/L), there is a 10-fold higher risk of stillbirth for the baby – with 3 in every 100 babies being stillborn. There is no other way to predict which babies are at higher risk of stillbirth in ICP.

In this study, we aim to work out whether the timing of the increase in bile acids in the mother’s blood affects the risk of stillbirth.

Potential patient benefit:

Currently, patients with ICP and very high bile acids are aware that they have an increased risk of stillbirth from the point of this abnormal blood test. Understanding which of these patients are at the highest risk of stillbirth will help us to personalise pregnancy recommendations, for example advising on the safest gestational age at which the baby should be born to prevent stillbirth, whilst avoiding the health complications of being born prematurely