Itchiness Could Signal Pregnancy Risks

1 decade 1 year 3 months ago Wednesday, August 08 2007 Aug 8, 2007 Wednesday, August 08, 2007 4:34:31 PM CDT August 08, 2007 in News

The condition can be fatal to the unborn child.

Mary and Rich Pokrywka will soon welcome a new son, Joseph. He'll be an early arrival because Mary started itching. It started the day before Easter: intense and localized to the bottoms of her feet and palms of her hands.

"All you could do is rub the hands as hard as you can, but it never seemed to go away," she said. 

Mary couldn't find an explanation in her pregnancy book and she feared the itching was serious.

"Those who are just being told itching's a part of pregnancy, for some, it may be, but this type of itching, when it's your feet, your legs, your arms, your hands, that's not normal," she said.

It's called obstetric cholestasis, a liver condition in which the normal flow of bile is impaired. Bile acid enters the blood stream and causes the intense itching.

"This isn't harmless when you know there's a possibility that your baby could be born stillborn; that's not harmless," said Pokrywka. 

Symptoms usually appear within the third trimester and the easiest way to find it is with a blood test.

"But because the test is negative, doesn't mean you don't have the problem; it can be up to fifteen weeks after the onset of symptoms that the serum bile acids begin to go up," said Tom Zarlingo, M.D.

Mary is monitored twice a week with blood tests, non-stress fetal exams, medications, and regular ultrasounds of her baby and liver. The only cure is to deliver Joseph a couple weeks early.

"Until that 37th week of pregnancy, when it becomes very fatal, and I know I will be delivering before I get to that point," said Pokrywka. 

Until then, she and Rich find relief each time Joseph makes a move.

Reported by NBC's Monica Robins.

It's important to remember, most itching is common during pregnancy, but if you have an uncontrollable itch that's localized, you may want to contact your doctor.

ADHD Affected by Brain Chemical

Two new studies shed light on how a certain brain chemical could affect attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Researchers found kids with ADHD were more likely to have a genetic variation that makes a dopamine receptor in the brain. Another study found adults with ADHD tend to have decreased dopamine activity in the brain. Some ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall work by increasing the amounts of dopamine in the brain.

Common Nutrient Linked to Cancer

A diet rich in the nutrient choline was associated with an increased risk for colorectal polyps in new observational study. Choline is found in eggs, red meat, chicken and dairy. Polyps can sometimes lead to colorectal cancer.

The study involved nearly 40 thousand women who were surveyed about their food habits. The result surprised researchers, who originally thought choline would actually have a protective effect. They say much more research needs to be done in this area.

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