Neonatal cholestasis

Patrick McKiernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Citations (Scopus)


Neonatal cholestasis must always be considered in a newborn who is jaundiced for more than 14-21 days and a measurement of the serum total and conjugated bilirubin in these infants is mandatory. Conjugated hyperbilirubinaemia, dark urine and pale stools are pathognomic of the neonatal hepatitis syndrome which should be investigated urgently. The neonatal hepatitis syndrome has many causes and should be investigated using a structured protocol. The most important condition in the differential diagnosis is biliary atresia and affected infants require a Kasai portoenterostomy performed by an experienced surgeon, ideally before the infant is 60 days old. A modified evaluation schedule should be used for preterm infants who have required neonatal intensive care. Genetic causes of the neonatal hepatitis syndrome are increasingly recognized and early diagnosis facilitates genetic counselling and, in some situations, specific treatment. The management of cholestasis is largely supportive, consisting of aggressive nutritional support with particular attention to fat-soluble vitamin status. The use of ursodeoxycholic acid is associated with improvement in biochemical measures of cholestasis and may improve the natural history of cholestasis in some circumstances. Outcome is dependent on aetiology. In idiopathic neonatal hepatitis more than 90% make a complete biochemical and d clinical recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in Neonatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2002


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