Discovery May Dramatically Reduce Liver Transplants in Children

A discovery published in the current issue of The Lancet may lead to new treatments for a deadly liver disease of infancy — dramatically reducing the number of liver transplants in children. A team of researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have revealed a genetic underpinning to biliary atresia, the most common reason for liver transplant in children. Biliary atresia occurs in infants and usually becomes evident two to eight weeks after birth. Its cause has been unknown. Symptoms include unexplained jaundice, dark urine, clay-colored stools and weight loss. The disease destroys bile ducts in the liver, trapping bile, rapidly causing damage to liver cells and severe scarring.

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