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Mom's Itching During Pregnancy Linked to Obese Teens

Update Date: Jun 24, 2013 12:47 PM EDT

The heath of the mother and the intrauterine environment can have significant and lasting effects on babies in the womb. A new study reveals that people born to women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) were more likely to have altered metabolic profiles and increased body mass index during teenage years.

Researchers explain that intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) or "jaundice of pregnancy," is a liver disease that affects around 0.5 percent to 2 percent of pregnant women.  The disease is characterized by increased bile acid levels in the maternal serum and typically presents with troublesome itching and can lead to complications for both mother and fetus.

The latest study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation looked t the long-term impact of ICP in a cohort of Finnish families.  Researchers found that as teenagers, individuals born to women with ICP had altered metabolic profiles and increased BMI. 

Lead researcher Catherine Williamson and colleagues at Imperial College London also developed a mouse model of ICP and found that offspring of ICP mothers were more susceptible to metabolic disease and diet-induced obesity. 

In an accompanying article, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Susan Murphy of Duke University points out that the mouse model of ICP may also be useful in identifying other factors that predispose individuals to metabolic syndrome.

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