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Pediatric Liver Diseases and Achievements in the Field

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Over a hundred kinds of liver diseases affect people all over the world. One in every five Indian suffers from one or the other kind of liver ailment. It affected over 30 million Americans as per the WHO reports of 2013.


As much as it may appear to be an adult issue, liver disease isn’t one. Paediatric care departments all over the US reported getting about fifteen thousands children with any form of liver problems every year.

Children who are born with a liver condition may have it because of a genetic mutation of some kind, an autoimmunity issue, or a blocked path for the bile to flow away from the liver among various other possibilities. However, being born with something as serious as a damaged liver means a lifetime of precautions and treatment. It is tough on the child as well as the parents/caregivers.

As the year end approaches, families struggle more. Celebrations take a different meaning as parents face their worst fear- the obscurity of a tomorrow for their child. The world does try to do its bit, tries to ease the agony that these families brave like champions. And yet, we are far, far away from the point where liver disease and treatments stop being synonyms to broken financial backs of grief-stricken families.

However, medicine is bringing about changes that can positively impact the global scenario of paediatric liver disease patients. Here are a few highlights from the recent achievements in the field.

FDA approved three clinical trials for children suffering from Hepatitis C. They use the Direct Acting Antiviral agents which have already been tested in adults and found to be safe and efficient.

Since over five million children all across the globe need HCV treatment, expanding the reach of the new trials is an excellent idea.

At present, five drugs approved by FDA can treat Hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal disease. Also, many people are unaware of carrying HBV. It is why the need of the hour is to organise as many screenings as possible in all reachable areas for paediatric subjects who may be at risk.

It is important to detect any signs of a rising need of a transplant in a child. It allows the medical care team the time to prepare the kid for the surgical drainage process.

Biliary Atresia is a strong indication that the child's liver may be near giving up entirely. Hospitals try to inform parents about symptoms that must be reported at the earliest. However, a parent may or may not catch an alarming situation, which is where the new developments regarding Biliary Atresia come in.

Doctors at John Hopkins released an iPhone App for free. Going by the name of Poop MD, this app lets parents snap their baby’s poop and upload it for the doctors to notice any changes or alarming hints. (light coloured stool could be an early sign.)

Doctors at Texas Children studied the effects of a direct bilirubin test on the day the child was born. Their results show the test to be a first-rate screening exam. With Northwestern University, both the institutions mentioned above are studying infants and the issues with their bile duct.

Certain liver diseases may end up causing neonatal jaundice. These involve Alagille Syndrome and inborn bile salt metabolism issues. New therapies are being tossed to deal with this itch, one of which involves using bile salt replacement to address the bile metabolism problem.

The Achievements Continue to Emerge

From describing new risk factors that may cause progression of the liver condition in kids and adults to understanding what may have caused the condition to rise in the first place, the medical world is continually working to deliver hope.

With time and scientific advances, it is indeed possible to envision the world where paediatric liver conditions will not keep a child from living life to the fullest.


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