Pediatric Liver Disease

Biliary Atresia

  • Approximately 15,000 children are hospitalized each year in the U.S. with pediatric liver diseases or disorders (as of 2016). Due to the absence of symptoms, especially in early stages, these disorders continue to be under-recognized or diagnosed late.
  • Biliary atresia (BA) is a rare disease at birth causing damage, scarring and blockage of the bile ducts. It affects 1 in 8,000 to 1 in 18,000 live births worldwide. About 10-20% of infants with biliary atresia have abnormalities in other organs, such as heart defects or issues with their spleen.
  • Biliary atresia (BA) is most commonly seen in full-term infants, (not in premature babies).
  • We don’t know the etiology of BA. There is emerging evidence that BA may start in utero and can be picked up at birth (but this is not proven yet).
  • We do not know what causes BA, but the diagnosis of BA is time-sensitive, ie., must occur as soon as possible.
  • Treatment of BA is surgical, and outcomes are better if the diagnosis and surgery occurs early, before 40 days of life.
  • New clinical trials for treatment of BA are ongoing.

Children and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

  • Fatty liver disease, also called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common form of childhood liver disease in the U.S., more than doubling over the past 20 years, partly because of the increase in childhood obesity. Studies estimate that 5% to 10% of children have NAFLD.
  • Prevalence of NAFLD in children by race/ethnicity: children of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity (11.8%); Asian children (10.2%); White children (8.6%); children of Black/African American race (estimate of 1.5%).

Last updated on September 12th, 2023 at 02:22 pm

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