Neonatal Cholestasis

What is Neonatal Cholestasis?

Neonatal cholestasis occurs when the bile flow of the liver is interrupted. In the liver, a liquid known as bile liquid is produced that looks like a yellow and brown mixture. It is a digestive fluid that travels from the liver to the intestines via bile ducts and is stored in the gallbladder.

It is more commonly referred to as a cholestatic liver ailment that is present from birth, rather than developing over the neonatal period. This uncommon category of illness is distinguished by conjugated hyperbilirubinemia in neonates and infants. Neonatal cholestasis is never a normal condition; rather, it is an indication of hepatobiliary and metabolic problems, some of which can be deadly if not diagnosed and treated early.

To identify those causes as treatable and provide an accurate prognosis, step-by-step evaluations are necessary.


NC is classified into extrahepatic and intrahepatic causes based on the pathology's anatomic location. Extrahepatic causes include biliary atresia and choledochal cyst (CC), while intrahepatic causes include INH, infections, endocrine and other metabolic disorders.

The pathogenesis of baby cholestasis nowadays is made up of multiple molecularly characterized entities with overlapping clinical manifestations. Over the last two decades, we have made significant progress in understanding the molecular causes of many cholestatic disorders.  Out of these, many disorders were previously undiagnosed by traditional blood tests and liver biopsies, but have now been detected by next-generation sequencing that simultaneously sequences multiple genes or whole exomes or genomes.

Despite these developments, the aetiology and optimum treatment approach for the most frequent of these illnesses, biliary atresia, remains unclear. The causes of newborn cholestasis, assessment procedures, and existing and future therapy options will all be investigated in this study.

  • Early detection and evaluation of an infant with cholestasis are critical, as neonatal cholestasis is never physiological and frequently necessitates immediate treatment or intervention.
  • To improve age at diagnosis and Kasai hepatoportoenterostomy for infants with biliary atresia, cost-effective methods for screening for biliary atresia in the first month of life are required.
  • The emergence of next-generation gene-sequencing technologies and sophisticated bioinformatics has sped up the discovery of new genetic causes of neonatal cholestasis.
  • Genetic testing may allow us to quickly identify genetic causes of cholestasis without invasive procedures, potentially leading to new precision treatments.
  • Multiple sites within the hepatobiliary tree can have impaired bile formation or flow, resulting in neonatal cholestasis; these sites are potential targets for new pharmacological therapies.

What causes cholestasis?

It is caused by to variety of conditions and metabolic issues like anatomic, genetic, metabolic, and immune disorders. Drugs and contaminants can also induce cholestasis and the cause of cholestasis, on the other hand, is rarely known.

Cholestasis in a newborn can be caused by several reasons. Biliary atresia is a common sign of this condition happens when the bile ducts that transport bile to the stomach do not grow properly. Infections (such as CMV) and genetic diseases can also, induce neonatal cholestasis. The reason for neonatal cholestasis will be determined through testing performed by your child's doctor.

What are the symptoms of neonatal cholestasis?

One of the earliest indications of cholestasis is jaundice, and there is a high possibility that skin and eyes may turn yellow colour. Although most infant jaundice is not caused by liver illness, it should be examined as a possible underlying cause. Later signs of cholestasis include fatigue, poor eating, trouble gaining weight, and itching. A large belly and extensive bruising or bleeding are symptoms of severe liver disease in a newborn.

The following symptoms or signs can be noticed in newborns:

  • Along with having black urine or pale faeces, you might also have jaundice.
  • Jaundice in conjunction with various disorders of the heart, spleen, skin, eyes, and bones.


Your kid may be prescribed special formulations, vitamin supplements, or certain drugs, depending on the extent of the condition.  Low-fat methods are commonly advised for neonates with cholestasis since they cause less diarrhoea. Patients with cholestasis are advised to take high doses of some vitamins because they have difficulty absorbing some vitamins (usually vitamins A, D, E, and K, often known as fat-soluble vitamins).

Numerous medications, including rifampin, antihistamines, and ursodeoxycholic acid, may be given to neonates if they become itchy. A liver transplant may be necessary if a newborn's sickness progresses to the point of cirrhosis, a condition that causes liver scarring.

  • Liver tests
  • Tests for metabolic, infectious, and genetic causes
  • Liver ultrasonography
  • Hepatobiliary scan
  • Occasionally biopsy of the liver, operative cholangiography, or genetic testing

It is always best to consult a medical professional to treat Neonatal Cholestasis properly and as effectively as possible. 

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Koramangala. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. How is the prognosis for cholestasis in a newborn determined?

Infant cholestasis therapy and prognosis differ depending on the underlying aetiology. While some people's symptoms improve with time, others worsen. Following the completion of the relevant tests, your doctor will give you a more detailed treatment plan and prognosis. cholestasis.

2. How do physicians assess neonatal cholestasis?

If your child exhibits symptoms, he or she will be evaluated by a pediatric gastroenterologist. During the evaluation, your doctor may request blood and urine samples. A liver ultrasound is frequently used to detect problems with the liver and gallbladder.

3. What are a few complications of newborn cholestasis?

The liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body. The liver also produces additional essential proteins in addition to albumin and coagulation components. Bile is also necessary for nutrition since it aids in the absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins.

4. How does cholestasis affect young people?

Malnutrition can occur in children with cholestasis because they may have trouble digesting their diet. In extreme situations, cirrhosis (liver scarring) and cholestasis can both result in the need for a liver transplant.

5. How can I determine whether my infant has liver problems?

Knowing the warning indicators listed below is essential: Yellowing of the skin and eyes is a symptom of chronic jaundice. persistent infant poop that is light in hue. The faeces of a newborn should be colourless, yellow, or dark yellow.

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