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When you start the incredible journey of pregnancy, your health and well-being, as well as that of your growing baby, take center stage.
Among the various health checks, one important thing to keep an eye on is how your liver is doing.
You can do this through Liver Function Tests or LFTs. These tests are crucial during pregnancy to make sure your liver is working as it should to support you and your growing baby.
In this article, we’ll explore what Liver Function Tests are, why they matter when you’re expecting, the different kinds of tests, and what the results can tell you about your liver’s health.
What Is Liver Function Test In Pregnancy?
A Liver Function Test (LFT) during pregnancy is a blood test that checks how well your liver is working. It’s crucial because your liver plays a vital role in your health and your baby’s development.
The test measures various things like enzymes, proteins, and other substances in your blood to ensure your liver is functioning properly.
If there are any issues, it helps catch them early so that you and your baby can get the right care. LFTs are a routine part of prenatal care to make sure both you and your little one stay healthy throughout pregnancy.
When LFT Test Is Done During Pregnancy?
Liver Function Tests (LFTs) during pregnancy are conducted to monitor liver health and detect any abnormalities. These tests are typically recommended if there are symptoms of liver disease, such as jaundice, itching, or abdominal pain. Elevated liver enzymes in pregnancy can indicate conditions like intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), preeclampsia, or HELLP syndrome. LFTs assess liver enzymes, bilirubin, and proteins to ensure the liver is functioning well. Early detection of liver issues in pregnancy through LFTs helps in timely management, ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby, and guiding appropriate medical interventions if necessary.
Types of Liver Function Test
During pregnancy, healthcare providers may use various types of Liver Function Tests (LFTs) to monitor the health of the liver. These tests include:
- Serum Bilirubin Levels
Bilirubin is a yellow substance produced when old red blood cells break down. High levels of bilirubin in the blood could indicate potential issues with the liver or bile ducts. This liver function test’s normal range is 0.2 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- Serum Albumin Levels
Albumin is a protein primarily produced by the liver. It plays a main role in maintaining the body’s fluid balance and transporting essential substances in the blood. Low levels of albumin can be indicative of liver disease. This liver function test’s normal range is 3.4 to 5.4 grams per deciliter (g/dL).
- Serum Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)
Alkaline Phosphatase is an enzyme produced by certain tissues in the body, including the liver and bones. Elevated ALP levels can signify liver issues, particularly those related to bile ducts or bone disorders. The normal level is 44 to 147 international units per liter (IU/L).
- Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) and Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
AST and ALT are enzymes found predominantly in liver cells. High liver enzyme levels in the bloodstream can indicate liver damage or inflammation. Assessing AST and ALT levels during pregnancy is vital to identify any liver-related complications early. Here are the normal liver enzyme levels. AST normal range is 5 to 40 IU/L, and ALT normal range is 7 to 56 IU/L.
- International Normalized Ratio (INR) and Prothrombin Time (PT)
These tests evaluate the blood’s ability to clot. The liver plays a vital role in producing proteins necessary for proper blood clotting. Abnormal PT and INR results can suggest liver dysfunction, potentially leading to clotting problems. These liver function tests normal values are as follows: PT normal range is approximately 10 to 13 seconds, and INR normal range is around 0.9 to 1.1.
Purpose of Liver Function Tests During Pregnancy
Liver Function Tests serve several critical purposes during pregnancy:
- Detection of Liver Disorders
These tests are vital for identifying liver conditions at an early stage, enabling healthcare providers to initiate timely and appropriate treatment. Early detection can significantly improve outcomes for both the expectant mother and the developing baby, as it allows for effective management of liver-related issues.
- Monitoring Liver Health in High-Risk Pregnancies
Certain pregnancies are associated with a higher risk of liver problems. For example, pregnancies complicated by gestational hypertension or preeclampsia can put additional stress on the liver. LFTs are instrumental in closely monitoring the liver’s function in such high-risk scenarios.
- Assessing the Impact of Pregnancy-Related Conditions
Conditions like gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) can have direct repercussions on the liver. LFTs play a pivotal role in assessing the extent of liver involvement and evaluating how these conditions are affecting liver function.
When Are Liver Function Tests Ordered?
The timing of Liver Function Tests during pregnancy depends on various factors, including the expectant mother’s health and any specific risk factors. Healthcare providers may order these tests:
- Gestational Hypertension/Preeclampsia
If you develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, it can affect the liver. In such cases, LFTs may be ordered to monitor liver function and detect any early signs of liver involvement.
- Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP)
This condition primarily targets the liver and can result in uncomfortable symptoms. Regular LFTs are often recommended to assess liver health and monitor the progression of ICP.
- HELLP Syndrome
HELLP syndrome is a serious type of preeclampsia that can harm various organs, including the liver. LFTs are essential in diagnosing and managing this condition, as abnormal results can indicate liver damage.
- Other Liver Disorders
If you have a pre-existing liver condition or a history of liver problems, healthcare providers may include LFTs as part of routine monitoring throughout your pregnancy. This proactive approach helps ensure that any changes in liver function are promptly identified and addressed.
Understating Liver Function Test Results
Understanding the Liver Function Test (LFT) results is crucial for monitoring your liver’s health during pregnancy. Normal LFT results mean your liver is working well. If results are abnormal, it may indicate liver issues.
For instance, high bilirubin levels could signal bile duct problems, while elevated enzymes like AST and ALT may suggest liver damage. Abnormal PT and INR results can imply clotting problems linked to liver conditions.
Your healthcare provider will interpret these results in the context of your pregnancy, ensuring timely care if needed. Regular monitoring helps keep both you and your baby safe by catching and addressing any liver concerns early.
During pregnancy, monitoring liver health through Liver Function Tests (LFTs) is crucial. These tests help ensure the well-being of both mother and baby. Understanding the types, purposes, and results of LFTs empowers expectant mothers with valuable insights into their liver’s health.
For expert guidance on Liver Function Tests during pregnancy and comprehensive prenatal care, consider reaching out to Queen’s Gynecology. We offer complete pregnancy testing, including liver function tests, and provide unwavering support throughout your entire pregnancy journey.
What is the normal range for SGPT and SGOT?
The normal range for SGPT (Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase) is typically 7 to 56 international units per liter (IU/L), while for SGOT (Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase), it is usually 8 to 40 IU/L.
What does it mean if liver enzymes are high during pregnancy?
Liver function tests showing high values during pregnancy can indicate potential liver issues, such as gestational liver disorders or preeclampsia, and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider immediately.
How do you improve liver function?
To improve liver function, maintain a balanced diet, limit alcohol intake, exercise regularly, stay hydrated, and avoid excessive use of over-the-counter medications.