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Old 01-25-2007, 08:53 PM   #1
zus888
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Exclamation Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

I have searched the internet. I have asked my doctor. I don't know where to turn to get more information. I discovered that I had high liver enzymes when I attempted to obtain life insurance. I was breastfeeding at the time. We tracked my levels for at least 6 months with no changes. I also got a liver biopsy along with many many bloodtests to rule out any diseases. All came up negative. The biopsy came up only with mild inflammation of the liver (not a fatty liver). Stopped nursing and got pregnant within 2 months. Was retested and my enzymes lowered to a normal level (one of the factors reduced threefold!). Everything remained normal (blood tests every 3 months throughout the pregnancy), until my latest test. They are all increasing again. I have always "felt" that the nursing was causing this, but my gastroenterologist was unconvinced. I think he may be starting to believe. I've been trying to find some research on this or some information regarding how hormones or nursing can affect liver values and am coming up with absolutely nothing! Surely, I cannot be the only nursing mom on the planet that has encountered this situation! But I just can't seem to find any information to support my theory. Can anyone help?

Thanks,
Suzanna

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Old 01-25-2007, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

Interesting...I had high #s when tested too, but they went away by the three-month retest. (DD was 3 and 6 mos., respectively.) Not "fatty liver" for me either. They assumed I had been drinking!

How much water are you drinking? If you're not getting enough your cholesterol might be high, which would impact the liver too (since it's your body's filtration system). Is your cholesterol high? The only other thing I can think of might be nutrition. Since you're BFing you're burning a lot of extra calories and might not be getting all the healthy calories your body needs to supply another body (baby).

I'm no doctor...it's good that you're running down all the leads with specialists, etc. I hope you find some answers and/or the numbers go back to "normal" soon. Certain enzymes are elevated naturally with pregnancy and they will throw the rest of the enzymes off too. If the #s are only a little high that might be one possible explanation.

Drinking lots of water and eating well is always good for you anyway, right? GL!
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:32 AM   #3
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

Yes, oddly, when I'm pregnant, everything returns to normal. The doctor put me on a low-fat diet, which I adhered strictly to. My cholesterol plummeted (and it was within normal ranges anyway so it wasn't that), but my liver enzyme values remained unchanged. I'm also assuming that everything will return back to normal when I stop breastfeeding and am not pregnant, but I may not be able to find that out for some time. Meanwhile, I'd love to get my hands on some literature or studies that I can give to my doc and give to the life insurance co that turned me down flat because of this. I'm assuming that it's all hormone related, but have nothing to back it up besides my gut feeling.

Suzanna
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Old 01-27-2007, 07:55 AM   #4
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

Maybe it's not the nursing that's elevating it, but pregnancy is lowering the enzyme levels. Progesterone is a natural anti-inflammatory & maybe that's helping while you're expecting. Or some other pregnancy hormone. I know women with multiple sclerosis often have less trouble with their dz while pregnant.
I know this doesn't help at all but just a thought...

also rapid weight loss might be at play

Last edited by stella072; 01-27-2007 at 07:59 AM. Reason: forgot 1 thing
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:40 PM   #5
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

stella072,

You know, you have an interesting point... After doing some more internet searching, I did find (you'd think I'd know this!) that progesterone is in birth control pills. Hence, the reason why my levels were within normal range before pregnancy. Perhaps, my body has a naturally high enzyme level (supposedly they are only "slightly elevated" according to my specialist) and the birth control pills and pregnancy lowered them. Are there lower levels of progesterone in your body while lactating? I couldn't find any studies that show any correlation to progesterone levels and liver enzyme values or any other liver functions. I can't imagine that I'm the only person in the universe with this issue! Anyway, I'm thinking of going to see a liver disease specialist for a second opinion. I'd really like to be able to get life insurance, and I just need some medical info to back me up. Maybe they'll reconsider...

Suzanna
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:37 AM   #6
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Smile Elevated ALP and ALT during lactation

Hi. Im just wondering if there someone out there who can share any information about my concern. Im breastfeeding a 3months old baby and on my blood test, it shows elevated alp and alt but normal bilirubin and albumin. During pregnancy i also had high alp and alt (other blood tests normal) which i was told is normal. But im not sure about having elevated alt/alp during lactation.
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Old 12-14-2009, 06:26 AM   #7
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

Hi Elvie,

I'm going to suggest that you follow up with a specialist (hepatologist) to find out what the issue is. After many tests and dead ends with my gastroenterologist, I finally found someone to properly diagnose me. Prior to being diagnosed, I spent a lot of time adjusting my diet and "watching" my blood work levels. I insisted on a liver biopsy which showed only mild inflammation, but nothing of real concern so I got the go-ahead to get pregnant again. (For the record, everything went smoothly with the pregnancy). It was a trip to the ER that prompted the proper diagnosis. I was dehydrated from a stomach flu I had contracted and I went there to get some fluids. You know how ERs can be, so they tested me for everything under the sun. I got some sort of abdominal scan (MRI or CT - can't remember which) and they found dilated bile ducts, which is a red flag for a particular disease of the liver. I'm not going to go into my specific disease, but I will say it was caught early and I can be properly treated for it when the time comes to do so. I just had my third baby in May (another smooth pregnancy and delivery).

So, long story short, please get yourself properly diagnosed from a hepatologist so that you can get treated (if necessary) or allay your fears that it's nothing at all. It is not normal to have elevated enzymes over a long period of time. My first doc kept trying to tell me that I MUST HAVE changed my medications (when I told him multiple times I hadn't) or that I contracted a virus. Yes, the enzymes can elevate for any number of reasons, but those are typically short-term if due to a virus. It could just be "fatty liver," but, really, only a specialist will be able to tell you exactly what the issue is.
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:32 AM   #8
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

Would you mind sharing with me what you were diagnosed with as my situation sounds the exact same as yours and I cannot get a proper diagnosis. Breastfeeding for 8 months and biopsy shows mild inflammation. Enzymes are very high....I also have terrible bloating that makes me look 6 months pregnant. Thank you so much for your help!!
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:42 AM   #9
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

I have a friend that has similar symptoms and elevated liver enzymes and she was just diagnosed with Epstein Barr. Its a virus that most people have (over 95% of people world wide carry it) but it usually lays dormant. It can flare up, especially in times of stress (pregnancy, BF, life changes, etc...) and can cause inflammation of the liver and other things.

I don't know if that helps at all but I just thought I'd throw it out there so you had a "name" to ask your doctor about. At least it would be one more thing to rule out, KWIM? Good luck ladies!
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Old 05-20-2011, 07:00 AM   #10
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Re: Please help!! High liver enzymes when breastfeeding

I was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. I guess I didn't want to get into it because the prognosis is so poor and I didn't want to alarm anyone. A doc should be able to see dilated bile ducts on a CT scan or MRI in order to diagnose it. There is another liver disease called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis that can cause elevated enzymes as well. I highly recommend going to see a GOOD hepatologist at a good hospital. I was with a small private practice and my doc wrote me off when I asked about PSC because "that's a very rare disease and really only seen in males." Well, he was wrong about me. Not that it matters because there's no treatment and no cure, so actually KNOWING about it does nothing except cause me stress! I am on a medication that the hope makes a difference, but there's no research to prove one way or another that it does anything for the progression of the disease.

On another note... I have also been diagnosed with celiac disease (autoimmune disease where my body attacks itself when I ingest any amount of gluten - wheat, barley, rye, and any by-products). I have done a decent amount of research on this as a result and have heard that some people have elevated liver enzymes that normalize after going on a gluten-free diet (they, too, had celiac). Just something to consider in case you reach dead ends on every other front.

If I were you, I'd keep hunting for a cause and demand an MRI or CT scan to check your bile ducts. These are both non-invasive. MRI is a longer scan and your arms will hurt after an hour of being over your head and having to stay still. CT scan will be shorter, but it IS radiation. Both might require an IV for contrast. The CT scan IV makes me feel like I'm peeing, even though I'm not. Freaks me out a bit! And it gives a taste of copper in your mouth. I didn't notice anything with the MRI IV.

Anyway, high liver enzymes means your liver isn't working properly and it's best you do whatever you can to find the cause. Those enzymes are basically saying that the liver is being damaged. So, don't stop searching. If your docs don't know what to do or are reluctant, find another doc. Seriously.

I'm doing incredibly well. My enzymes are only slightly elevated and I still have no outward physical symptoms. I've put new breath into my life: started exercising and eating better. I was a couch potato and now run 5k regularly. I'm doing everything in my power to live a healthy lifestyle so that I can be around when my kids grow up. I feel healthier than I have in years, even though on paper I'm an insurance company's worst nightmare! LOL!

Best of luck. If you have any questions or want to pick my brain, you can pm me and I can give you my personal email. Thinking of you and sending hugs.
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