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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 14, Suppl D, Pages 67D-72D

Neonatal Cholestasis: A Red Alert for the Jaundiced Newborn

Dinesh Pashankar and Richard A Schreiber

Division of Gastroenterology, British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Received 15 January 1999; Accepted 5 February 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neonatal jaundice may indicate cholestasis rather than a benign, physiological condition. Any four-week-old newborn with persistent jaundice should have a fractionated bilirubin screen to determine whether the hyperbilirubinemia is unconjugated. Conjugated hyperbilirubinemia, a hallmark of neonatal cholestasis, is pathological and requires further investigation. These infants need prompt diagnosis, early intervention and careful follow-up to ensure continued growth and development. Recent progress in the physiology of bile flow is reviewed, and the evaluation and management of neonatal cholestasis are summarized. Further advances in delineating the cellular and molecular processes that regulate bile acid metabolism in both health and disease will lead to a greater understanding of the conditions causing neonatal cholestasis. Unravelling the etiopathogenesis of these neonatal cholestatic disorders will allow the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that ultimately will effectuate the prognosis for these young patients.