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Grandmother tackles 200-mile bike ride

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:05 01 August 2010

A GRANDMOTHER has cycled from Beccles to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as part of a 200-mile cyclathon to raise awareness of a condition that can causes still births.

A GRANDMOTHER has cycled from Beccles to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as part of a 200-mile cyclathon to raise awareness of a condition that can causes still births.

Andy Edgecombe, 63, cycled the 26.5 miles from her daughter and son-in-law's home in St George's Road as part of a mission to inform mothers about the dangers of Obstetric Cholestasis (OC).

She is cycling to and from a number of ante-natal clinics in the region to hand out leaflets on the condition, as well as raise money for research into OC.

The cause is very close to Mrs Edgecombe's heart, as her first baby was still born as a result of the condition. However the experience allowed her to spot the warning signs when her daughter, Charlotte Squirrell, developed the problem when pregnant with her own daughter last November.

“At 36 weeks of pregnancy she developed itching on her hands and feet, which are the warning signs,” explained Mrs Edgecombe, who lives in Long Melford. “So she had blood tests to check her levels of liver function and bile acids, which is how to get a diagnosis of OC. When she was found to have abnormally high levels, the consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital acted promptly and her baby was induced three weeks early, to ensure she would not be adversely affected.

“So now I am the very proud granny of a beautiful baby girl.”

In 1976, when Mrs Edgecombe gave birth to her still-born baby, the tragedy was left unexplained because there was no knowledge of OC. However when she came across an article on the condition in a magazine by chance a few years ago, she realised that she too had experienced the tell tale signs of itchy hands and feet.

She retrieved her old hospital notes just before they were due to be destroyed, and found that her blood tests also suggested that she had had the condition.

As it is a common condition in daughters and sisters of people who have had OC, she was able to warn her daughter that she might develop OC if she became pregnant.

“Midwives know that if any mum complains of itching they should be sent for blood tests,” said Mrs Edgecombe. “But usually by the last month or so of pregnancy you're feeling pretty lousy anyway, so you may not think to mention it. You may not realise that it could be a threat to the baby.”

Her 200 mile cycle ride is an accumulated total of visits to seven different hospital maternity units in East Anglia. Before her journey to the Norfolk and Norwich - on March 16 - she had cycled from Beccles to the James Paget Hospital, and she cycled from her home in Long Melford to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge last Saturday. Her next trip is from home to King's Lynn Hospital, a 55 mile journey that she is covering over two days.

To find out more about Obstetric Cholestasis visit www.ocsupport.org.uk. To sponsor Andy visit www.justgiving.com/andysocbikeride.

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