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Serum bile acids are not elevated in healthy pregnancy
  1. N Egan,
  2. A Bartels,
  3. A Kashan,
  4. D Broadhurst,
  5. C Joyce,
  6. K O'Donoghue
  1. Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland


Obstetric cholestasis (OC) is a liver disorder characterised by pruritus and elevated serum bile acids (SBA). It is associated with adverse perinatal outcomes, but its pathogenesis is not fully understood. SBA levels in healthy pregnancy remain uninvestigated.

Objective To establish pregnancy specific reference values for SBA in healthy gravid women.

Method This is a cross-sectional analysis of SBA in 222 healthy women with a singleton pregnancy. Women attending Cork University Maternity Hospital were sampled at 5 different stages: 12, 20, 28, 36 weeks gestation and postnatal.

Results Values of SBA ranged from 0.3–16.7 µmol/l, with only three values above 10 µmol/l. There were no significant changes in the different stages of pregnancy.

Conclusions Bile acid values in uncomplicated pregnancies are consistent regardless of gestation and are not significantly elevated. The current reference values used for the diagnosis of OC are appropriate.

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