Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP) is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition that occurs in pregnant women, usually during the third trimester or shortly after delivery. It is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, leading to liver dysfunction and failure.
The exact cause of AFLP is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Women with AFLP typically present with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, and fatigue. They may also have elevated liver enzymes and low platelet counts, which can be indicative of liver dysfunction.
Diagnosis of AFLP is made based on a combination of clinical symptoms, laboratory tests, and imaging studies such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the liver. It is important to distinguish AFLP from other liver diseases that can occur during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and acute viral hepatitis.
Treatment of AFLP involves delivery of the baby as soon as possible, regardless of gestational age, to reduce the stress on the mother’s liver. Supportive care such as intravenous fluids, electrolyte replacement, and blood products may be necessary to manage complications such as bleeding or hypotension. In severe cases, liver transplantation may be necessary.
The prognosis for AFLP depends on the severity of the liver dysfunction and the promptness of diagnosis and treatment. With early recognition and appropriate management, most women with AFLP recover fully without long-term complications. However, delayed diagnosis or inadequate treatment can lead to severe liver damage and even death.
Due to the potential for serious complications, pregnant women with symptoms suggestive of AFLP should seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical to ensure the best possible outcomes for both mother and baby.