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Arch Argent Pediatr. 2008 Apr;106(2):155-61. doi: 10.1590/S0325-00752008000200012.

[Neonatal hemochromatosis. A cause of liver failure in utero. Report of two cases and review of the literature].

[Article in Spanish]

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  • 1Servicio de Neonatología, Clínica Bazterrica, Ciudad de Buenos Aires.


Neonatal hemochromatosis is a rare clinical pathologic entity, defined by severe neonatal liver failure of intrauterine onset associated with intra-and extra- hepatic siderosis that spares reticuloendothelial system. It is the most frequently recognized cause of liver failure in neonates. The cause is unknown but it may develop secondary to abnormal fetoplacental iron handling or perinatal liver disease or be familial or as a consequence of gestational alloimmune disease. It's a syndrome with a common feature rather than a single pathologic entity, with maternal transmission and a high recurrence in the sibship. Death from multisystem organ failure usually occurs in the first few days or weeks of life. We report two newborn with neonatal hemochromatosis. The first died for multiorgan failure, despite aggressive support. The second underwent to liver transplantation. Since 1993, an antioxidant-chelator cocktail has been used in addition to standard supportive care, but this remains controversial. By 2002, a preliminary report suggested that treatment with weekly intravenous immunoglobulin during the later half of pregnancy, for woman whose most recent gestation was affected with proven NH. The diagnosis is suspected in the presence of severely impaired hepatic synthetic function accompanied by high serum ferritin levels, but is confirmed only by demonstration of increased hepatic iron stores, and extra-hepatic siderosis shown by autopsy or in vivo, which can be achieved by biopsy of the minor salivary glands or magnetic resonance imaging. Neonatal hemochromatosis is the most common specific indication for liver transplantation in the first three months of life and appears to be the treatment of choice, and must as well be considered as soon as it becomes apparent that medical support, which should include chelation-antioxidant treatment, is ineffective, before irreversible neurological complications appear.

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