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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 20 (2006), Issue 1, Pages 25-30

Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy

Hin Hin Ko and Eric Yoshida

Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Received 4 May 2005; Accepted 4 July 2005

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP) is a rare, potentially fatal complication that occurs in the third trimester or early postpartum period. Although the exact pathogenesis is unknown, this disease has been linked to an abnormality in fetal fatty acid metabolism. Early diagnosis of AFLP sometimes can be difficult because it shares features with other common conditions such as pre-eclampsia, viral hepatitis and cholestasis of pregnancy. However, a careful history and physical examination, in conjunction with compatible laboratory and imaging results, are often sufficient to make the diagnosis, and liver biopsy is rarely indicated. Supportive care and expeditious delivery are essential to optimal maternal-fetal outcomes and remain as the mainstay treatment for AFLP.