Ask, ‘could it be ICP?’

02 September 2019
6 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 9


Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a condition that can have devastating consequences for women and babies. Jenny Chambers explains what ICP is and how it can be managed

ICP Support started life as a support and information line in 1991. In the way many charities begin, it evolved out of personal tragedy. In my case, that tragedy was two stillbirths and the diagnosis of a liver condition of pregnancy called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), which less than a handful of health professionals in the UK knew about at the time.

When I learnt why my two daughters had died and that women were advised that itching (the predominant symptom in ICP) in pregnancy was normal, I felt a huge obligation to raise awareness among women and health professionals. Back then, knowledge of the condition was relatively scant; it was generally thought that delivering the baby by 38 weeks of pregnancy (an idea fuelled by research in Australia in the 1980s) to avoid stillbirth was all that was needed. I thought my task would be simple and quick: raise awareness, help change practice so that unborn babies were delivered by 38 weeks', support women until obstetric practices changed, then get back to a ‘normal’ life.

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