Jennie: Judd’s Legacy raises awareness about potentially deadly pregnancy complication ICP


It can be the signal of something desperately wrong with a baby in utero: itching on the stomach and ankles. And it can have deadly consequences if not treated.

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, also known as ICP, is a liver condition that can increase a pregnant woman’s risk for problems including premature birth, stillbirth, and heavy bleeding after birth. 

According to the March of Dimes, symptoms include feeling itchy on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet. 

It was that itching feeling that led Allison Gardener to her OB. By 32 weeks she was waking up with horrible scratches and open sores.

“My itching got so bad to where I had open sores on the outside of my ankles and legs, bruising on the outside of my thighs from scratching through my clothes. It got worse in the evening, so as soon as I got home from work I would start wrapping my ankles and all in ice, I would take cold showers, I tried oatmeal baths, I did all kinds of topical ointments, lotions, nothing seemed to help. I’d lay on the hard, cold floor. When I got out of the shower, I did anything I could to try to get relief, but there’s really no relief with the itching I had.”

Her doctor basically told her it was part of being pregnant.

“So, I started looking online to see what these symptoms would be, and so I ran across ICP, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. I then started noticing my urine was extremely dark. And as a doctor of chiropractic, I knew that these things were associated with my liver, or could be. So I got more concerned. I called back to my doctor’s office and they said, ‘We’ll run this bile acid lab on you if that’s something you want to do, but the doctor’s really not too concerned… he just wants to give you peace of mind.’ 

In the meantime, Allison’s sister, who is a nurse, talked to one of the doctors that she works with, who he said it could be very serious and she needed to be tested right away.

“So, I went over that day and had my blood work done then. But it takes up to two weeks at times to get your results back, so I had to sit around and wait. Because there’s no lab in SC, and I believe in a lot of surrounding states that even run the bile acid lab because there’s not enough demand for the lab. Judd died at 36 weeks and one day. And we were planning to deliver six days from there. So we lost him six days before he entered this world.”

Learn more at the Facebook page, Judd’s Legacy.

“We want women to understand that itching, severe itching, is not normal even if you’re told it’s normal by your health care provider. ICP it’s so silent and quick and there’s just not enough research on it to know exactly what signs and symptoms to look for. Many medical doctors that I’ve spoken with that had never heard of ICP. So there’s still a lot to learn.”

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