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Causes of cholestasis in neonates and young infants

Jessi Erlichman, MPH
Kathleen M Loomes, MD
Section Editors
Steven A Abrams, MD
Elizabeth B Rand, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Neonatal cholestasis is generally defined as conjugated hyperbilirubinemia that occurs in the newborn period or shortly thereafter. Cholestasis results from diminished bile formation and/or excretion, which can be caused by a number of disorders. The term "neonatal cholestasis" is often used to refer to cholestatic liver disease that is present at birth and/or develops within the first few months of life, rather than referring strictly to the neonatal period (the first 28 days of life). In clinical practice, these disorders usually become apparent within the first two months of life, which is the critical period for identifying infants with biliary atresia, the most common cause of cholestasis in this age group. However, similar diagnostic considerations apply for infants whose cholestasis is identified after two months of age.

Causes of neonatal cholestasis can be divided into the following categories (table 1A):




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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 29, 2017.
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