Mon, Oct 17, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Parents warned against biliary atresia in infants

LIFE-THREATENING:Biliary atresia is the most common cause of liver transplants in children in Taiwan and early detection is crucial for its treatment

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Parents should take their infants to a doctor if the children have jaundice for more than 14 days and have chalky gray or pale yellow stool, the Taiwan Children Liver Foundation said.

The foundation cited a recent case in which a girl, born in Taipei’s Cardinal Tien Hospital in June, was found to have jaundice four days after birth, but her condition worsened after receiving phototherapy, and blood tests showed that her total bilirubin and direct bilirubin levels were high.

She was transferred to National Taiwan University Hospital for further examination and was diagnosed with biliary atresia — a life-threatening condition in infants in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not have openings. It must be corrected by surgery.

“Prevalence of biliary atresia in Taiwan is probably the second-highest in the world,” Foundation chairperson Chang Mei-hwei (張美惠) said. “An average of about 1.5 to two per 10,000 newborns in Taiwan have biliary atresia.”

She said that the prevalence of the condition in newborns in Western nations is about 0.5 to 0.7 per 10,000 people, and about 0.8 to 0.9 per 10,000 people in Japan.

Jaundice is one of the symptoms of biliary atresia, Chang said, adding that parents should take their babies to a doctor if they see signs of jaundice.

About 30 to 40 infants are diagnosed with biliary atresia in Taiwan every year, and it is the most common cause of liver transplants in children or infant deaths caused by liver disease, she said, adding that early detection is important for treatment, but about 30 percent of cases are not discovered at an early stage.

The foundation said parents can use the infant stool color card in the Children’s Health Manual published by the Health Promotion Administration to check whether their infant’s stool color is normal.

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