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J Pediatr Surg. 1989 Jun;24(6):534-8.

Resting energy expenditure is increased in infants and children with extrahepatic biliary atresia.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


To determine if liver dysfunction in children affects energy and macronutrient homeostasis, we performed 13 metabolic studies in 11 patients (age, 17.8 +/- 5.9 months [mean +/- SEM]) with extrahepatic biliary atresia (EHBA). Nutritional balance, indirect calorimetry, anthropometry, and biochemical liver function tests were utilised. Sixty-four percent of the energy losses were in the form of stool fat. Energy expenditure (68 kcal/kg/d) was 29% higher than normal (P less than 0.0025). Only one third of the metabolisable energy intake (37 kcal/kg/d) was stored in the body for new tissue synthesis. In spite of the bountiful protein intake for age, the increased protein oxidation (2g/kg/d) resulted in a virtually zero mean nitrogen balance. In addition, four patients oxidised endogenous protein as well. The respiratory quotient was 0.96, and did not change significantly between pre- and post-meal measurements, suggesting a predominant utilisation of carbohydrate for energy metabolism. Net lipid oxidation was severely diminished. We found that the higher the serum aspartate aminotransferase level (previously named SGOT), the lower the net fat oxidation, and the higher the conversion of glucose to fat. These data suggest that markedly increased energy expenditure contributes to the malnutrition of patients with EHBA. We characterised for the first time how severe liver disease in infants and children affects carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism, thus inducing protein-energy malnutrition.

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