Mom's warning for pregnant women: Don't ignore the itch, it could mean danger for baby

Mom's warning for pregnant women: Don't ignore the itch, it could mean danger for baby
(Courtesy: Christina DePino)
(Courtesy: Christina DePino)

(WBTV) - A new mother has a warning for pregnant women about a sign you might be ignoring that could be putting your baby's life in danger.

Christina DePino, who recently moved to Michigan from Denham Springs, Louisiana, began to suffer from something so uncomfortable to the point she couldn't sleep due to the excruciating pain.  It was an itch.

At first, DePino thought the itching was a combination of regular pregnancy stretching and having recently moved to a drier climate. She said the itching started around 30 weeks and began to increase in intensity for the next month.

"The itching was so severe that I would wake up and I wouldn't be able to go back to bed, and my legs and arms were scabbed and bleeding from the uncontrollable need to scratch," DePino told CBS News.

So she decided to ask her Facebook friends for advice. DePino said a couple friends suggested she ask her doctor because it could be ICP.

"[They] didn't explain what it mean, so I didn't take them seriously until a few days later when I posted again about the itching and my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, actually suggested that I google Cholestasis of pregnancy," DePino recalled. "Once I did that, I saw stillborn as a risk, and I contacted my doctor right away."

According to the Mayo Clinic, Cholestasis of pregnancy can make you intensely uncomfortable but "poses no long-term risk to an expectant mother. For a developing baby, however, cholestasis of pregnancy can be dangerous. Doctors usually recommend early delivery."

For babies, complications from cholestasis of pregnancy can be severe. It increases the risk of a baby being born prematurely. There's also a risk of fetal death late in pregnancy.

The term "cholestasis" refers to any condition that impairs the flow of bile — a digestive fluid — from the liver. Pregnancy is one of many possible causes of cholestasis.

"I had read that as long as I could feel the baby moving then all was ok, and my baby was very active, so it put my mind at ease," DePino said about her research. "I was mostly concerned that my doctor wouldn't take me seriously, but luckily she did!"

DePino said she underwent a panel of blood tests to check liver function and check for the amount of Bile Acid Salts in her blood.

Five days later the results came back as positive. After a couple additional non-stress tests on her baby and an ultrasound with a maternal fetal medicine doctor the decision was made to induce labor the next week - when she was 37 weeks pregnant.

Two days later, her daughter was born at 6 pounds and 6 ounces.  DePino and her husband, Aaron, were able to take their daughter home the day after she was born.

She turned one-week-old Tuesday.

DePino couldn't help but think about all the things that could've gone wrong, so she decided to share her pregnancy scare on Facebook to warn other expecting mothers about ICP.

The post went viral with thousands of comments and more than 26,000 shares.

Her advice for expecting mothers? Don't ignore the itch.

"Many doctors are still not familiar with this condition and will brush off concerns about itching, as a normal part of pregnancy," she said. "I would like to urge pregnant women who are suffering from severe itching to be their own advocate, know the signs and symptoms, then contact your doctor and get the blood test right away."

According to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cholestasis occurs in about 1 out of 1,000 pregnancies.

"If your doctor does not take you seriously, find someone who will! A good health care provider will take your concerns seriously," she added. "It is easily summed up by saying: Don't ignore the itch, a simple blood test could save your baby's life!"

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