Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy


Fatty liver if not detected and treated in time will be very dangerous. For pregnant women, the level of danger also increased a lot.

Fatty liver (hepatic fatty liver disease) is a condition in which the accumulation of fat in the liver exceeds 5% of the liver weight. There are many causes of the fatty liver such as unreasonable diets leading to malnutrition or obesity, intestinal diseases, hepatitis C and obesity, excessive alcohol consumption. 90% of cases of fatty liver occur silently, chronically and for a long time.

However, attention should also be paid to cases of acute fatty liver, particularly fatty liver levels in fast-growing pregnancies and high mortality risk.

What is the cause of acute fatty liver in pregnancy?

Fatty liver in pregnancy is a serious, rare and potentially deadly disease, common in the middle of week 32 and 38 of pregnancy. The incidence is about 1 in 10,000 women. So far there are no clear pathogenetic mechanisms as well as the cause of disease. According to some studies, the disease is due to mitochondrial dysfunction in fatty acid oxidation by 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase (LCHAD), which causes fatty accumulation in the liver.


Common symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache and abdominal pain in the epigastrium, which can progress to jaundice and liver failure with hepatic encephalopathy, renal dysfunction, and coagulopathy.

In some cases, there are symptoms of hypertension, peripheral edema, and proteinuria – are features of preeclampsia.

During clinical examination, the liver disease is difficult to find due to pregnancy. Tests show that bilirubin is normal at baseline but can be markedly elevated, leukocytosis, hypoglycemia, hyperuria, and prolonged prothrombin time. Ultrasound and CT can help with the diagnosis, but mainly liver biopsy.


Pregnancy with fatty liver can lead to complications such as hepatic coma, renal failure, hypoglycemia, infection, gastrointestinal bleeding, coagulation disorders, stillbirth, etc. Maternal mortality is 18% of the cases.

In infants 47% mortality rate due to many complications such as liver failure, cardiomyopathy, encephalopathy, hypoglycemia, hypoketotic.

At present, fatty liver disease in pregnant women does not have the special remedy, so pregnant women should regularly visit the doctor in the specialist. Frequent visits will help doctors detect early symptoms and appropriate and timely treatment, avoiding dangerous complications. If late, the disease will be dangerous for both mother and fetus.

Mothers with one or more of these conditions will have a deficiency of catalytic enzymes in the mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acids in infants. Children with this deficiency have hypoglycemia, coma, and abnormal liver enzymes or sudden death which cannot find the cause.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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