Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It may occur without symptoms, although jaundice is the major manifestation of hepatitis. In jaundice, the serum bilirubin (liver enzyme) level increases beyond 2 mg % causing yellow discolouration of the skin, mucus membrane and conjunctiva of eyes along with decreased appetite, fatigue and weakness.
The causes of Hepatitis (Jaundice) during pregnancy are classified as-
- Hepatitis or jaundice due to pregnancy
- Hepatitis or jaundice not related to pregnancy
Hepatitis or Jaundice due to pregnancy: The reasons are
- Intrahepatic cholestasis:
- Second most common cause of jaundice in pregnancy
- Caused due excess circulation of oestrogen leading to stasis of bile into bile canaliculi
- It usually occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy and may appear in subsequent pregnancies also
- Generalised pruritus or whole body itching is the most common symptom
- May be associated with weakness, nausea and sometimes vomiting
- Blood investigation shows little or no rise in bilirubin level but the other enzymes SGOT and serum alkaline phosphatase levels are elevated
- Severe pre- eclampsia
- Acute fatty liver
- Endogenic shock
Hepatitis not related to pregnancy: The reasons are
- Viral hepatitis – Most common cause of hepatitis during pregnancy.
- Types of viral hepatitis- Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E
- Hepatitis A and E are mainly caused by drinking infected water or food products contamination
- Hepatitis B, C and D are mainly caused through intravenous route or contact with body fluids, blood transfusion or sexual contact
- In hepatitis B and D, there is a possibility of vertical transmission from mother to baby
- Haemolytic jaundice – Caused due to transfusion of mismatched blood
- Jaundice due to gall bladder stones – Caused due to obstruction of bile duct due to gall stones
- Drug induced – Certain drugs like acetaminophen cause jaundice
Effect of hepatitis on mother and baby
For mother, there is increased risk of postdelivery heavy bleeding (PPH postpartum haemorrhage), haemorrhagic manifestations and hepatic coma
For baby, risk of abortion and premature delivery risk is higher
How can we prevent hepatitis?
- Taking care of personal hygiene
- Using disposable syringes and needles
- Eating properly cooked food
- Vaccines as per advise of the doctor
Simple precautions can make a great difference.