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Semin Perinatol. 2004 Oct;28(5):348-55.

Neonatal cholestasis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239-2998, USA.


Any infant who is jaundiced beyond two to three weeks of life should be evaluated for neonatal cholestasis. Neonatal cholestasis is defined as accumulation of bile substances in blood due to impaired excretion. These infants should always have fractionated serum bilirubin levels checked to differentiate the conjugated hyperbilirubinemia of cholestasis from unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia that is usually benign and spontaneously resolves. Conjugated hyperbilirubinemia, pale stools and dark urine are the cardinal features of neonatal cholestasis. The differential diagnosis of cholestasis is extensive and a systematic approach is helpful to quickly establish the diagnosis. Biliary atresia is a common cause of neonatal cholestasis and affected infants need surgery before 60 days of life for better prognosis. Premature infants have multifactorial cholestasis and need a modified approach to the evaluation of cholestasis. Management of cholestasis is mostly supportive, consisting of medical management of complications of chronic cholestasis like pruritus and nutritional support for malabsorption and vitamin deficiency.

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