Liver problems in children: How to identify and prevent them

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19 July 2019 : Liver plays important role of metabolism, storage, detoxification besides bile excretion in the intestine for several digestive functions. Liver diseases in children have a huge spectrum of causes ranging from inborn errors of metabolism, infective and acquired etc. Around 30% of liver disorders of children in India are constituted by neonatal cholestasis (liver disorders of newborn and early infancy). It is vital to identify liver disease in newly born babies and treat them as early as possible.

Dr. Surender K Yachha, Director of Pediatrics, Sakra World Hospital shares, any jaundiced child in the first weeks of life with passage of yellow urine, staining in the diaper is an indication that the baby is suffering from liver disease. Dark yellow urine signifies that the liver is on fire and it’s a sign of emergency. Neonatal Jaundice is the yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes. In such cases, parents need to stay cautious and inform the doctor.

Liver disorders in children in India are linked to disorders such as neonatal cholestasis, galatosemia (a genetic disorder that affects the ability of a body to process simple sugar known as galactose), Wilson disease (a disorder that causes liver to accumulate copper, possibly to a life threatening level), autoimmune and acute & chronic hepatitis. These diseases can be treated if diagnosed early. There are cases where the biliary tract is blocked since birth called Biliary Atresia. Those children should undergo immediate surgery within 8 weeks of life. Dr Yachha further adds, any delay in the surgery can lead to development of liver cirrhosis and ultimately, may require liver transplant. Acute viral Hepatitis is a common liver infection, especially in India, that leads to inflammation of the organ and results in liver cell damage and destruction. It is advisable to vaccinate children for hepatitis B virus as early as possible as a part of immunization.

How to know if your child has liver disease?


Jaundice and passage of dark urine is the symptom that the liver and spleen may be enlarged. It is of extreme importance to keep a check on the overall health of the newborns and infants, identify discoloration in skin, urine and stool.



Most of the liver disorders during neonatal stage of life can be treated, prevent them before the condition worsen if diagnosed as early as possible. If any unusual symptoms can be visible it is advisable to consult a Paediatric Gastroenterologist. Avoid giving children ‘Processed and Packaged Food (Junk food) items as they accumulate fats in the liver and lead in raising many liver ailments.