New Liver Won't Prevent a New Baby

Liver transplant recipients have better successful pregnancy rates but with complications

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Being an organ transplant recipient can mean major changes in your life. Fortunately for women with liver transplants, the possibility of having children isn't one of these.

A recent study has confirmed that women who have received liver transplants not only can have successful pregnancies but that their likelihood of carrying the baby to term is better than average.

"You can have a baby even after a liver transplant."

Dorry Segev, MD, Director of Clinical Research in Transplant Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, conducted a review of research over the past decade to find out how female liver transplant recipients fare after becoming pregnant.

Identifying articles from the year 2000 through 2011, Dr. Segev considered the birth complications for the mothers, delivery outcomes, birth information for the babies and data related to the transplant.

Dr. Segev found a total of eight studies that included all the information he was looking for. The studies together included 306 women and 450 pregnancies.

The live birth rate among these women was 77 percent, ten percent higher than the US overall rate of 67 percent.

Miscarriages were also slightly lower, just as they are with women who have had kidney transplants. While the general population's miscarriage rate is 17 percent, liver transplant recipients' rate is 16 percent, and kidney transplant recipients' rate is 14 percent.

Liver transplant recipients do, however, tend to experience higher levels of complications, including a risk five times greater than average for pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.

The pre-eclampsia rate for liver transplant recipients is 22 percent, compared to 4 percent generally in the US.  Cesarean sections were also twice as high among liver transplant recipients: 45 percent compared to the national average of 21 percent.

Risk of having a preemie was a little more than three times higher for women who have had liver transplants, with a 39 percent chance of preterm birth compared to 13 percent in the US population.

"Our findings confirm that pregnancy is feasible following liver transplantation, but not without potential complications," said Neha Deshpande, who conducted the literature review.

"Women who wish to start families following a liver transplant should work closely with their physicians to minimize risk and to ensure a healthy outcome for themselves and their babies."

The authors also recommended that transplant recipients of any organ report their pregnancy outcomes to transplantation centers for data collection to aid with further studies.

The study was published in the June issue of the journal Liver Transplantation. No external funding sources or conflicts of interests were noted.

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Review Date: 
June 9, 2012
Last Updated:
October 23, 2012