It’s scary when your child is diagnosed with a disease, and learning more can help ease some of the fear associated with a pediatric health condition. Here, Dr. Joel Lavine explains what parents need to know about pediatric cholestasis treatment.
If your child has been struggling to gain weight and is experiencing jaundice, it’s possible that your pediatrician may be interested in learning more about your child’s liver function.
In a healthy liver, bile and bilirubin flow through a duct that’s connected to the small intestine. Bile helps the body to absorb fat, modulate metabolism, and rid the body of bilirubin, a substance in the blood that imparts a yellow color to the skin and eyes when it is not eliminated from the blood by the liver. An excess of bilirubin causes jaundice.
In many cases, pediatric cholestasis is treatable, says Dr. Joel Lavine. If your child ends up having a chronic liver condition despite treatment for pediatric cholestasis, your treatment team will work with you to develop a plan to manage your child’s condition, helping them live as healthily as possible.
There are several symptoms that may make your pediatrician want to learn more about your baby or child’s liver function.
Symptoms of cholestasis include:
- Slow weight gain
- Itchy skin
- Swollen abdominal cavity
- Dark urine
- White or gray stools
If you notice these symptoms in your child, be sure to talk with your pediatrician about the next steps that you can take to learn more about whether your child’s liver is functioning properly.
Thankfully, many children with pediatric cholestasis are eligible for life-changing treatment, says Dr. Joel Lavine. Your pediatrician will work to determine the cause of your child’s cholestasis. The cause of your child’s cholestasis will determine what type of treatment makes the most sense for their condition.
If your child has cholestasis due to medication or parenteral nutrition, the condition will likely go away once these provocations are corrected. In these situations, no further treatment is needed.
If your child’s bile ducts are blocked or damaged, it’s likely that surgery will be recommended to correct the issue. Your child will likely undergo a procedure called Kasai portoenterostomy. This will allow the bile to flow properly through the body, often diminishing the problem, according to Dr. Joel Lavine.
If your child’s cholestasis is related to a chronic condition, you’ll work closely with a specialist to determine the best course of ongoing treatment for your child’s health.