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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 17, Issue 3, Pages 179-182
Original Article

Transient Cholestasis in Newborn Infants with Perinatal Asphyxia

D Herzog,1 P Chessex,2 S Martin,1 and F Alvarez1

1Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition and Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital, Montreal, Canada
2Division of Neonatology, Children’s & Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Received 15 January 2002; Revised 17 January 2003

Copyright © 2003 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.


In asphyxiated newborn infants, cholestasis often leads to extensive investigations and a cause can rarely be found.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the frequency of transient neonatal cholestasis in an unselected group of asphyxiated newborn infants in a mother-child centre.

METHOD: Charts of 181 asphyxiated newborn infants born with appropriate birth weight for gestational age (AGA) or small weight for gestational age (SGA) at Sainte-Justine Hospital, Montreal, Quebec between 1989 and 1993 were reviewed.

RESULTS: Transient neonatal cholestasis was found in 8.5% of asphyxiated AGA and 33% of SGA newborn infants, compared with 3.94% cholestasis of any etiology in nonasphyxiated SGA infants. Asphyxiated neonates born before the age of 35 weeks had an increased risk for transient neonatal cholestasis (odds ratio 2.84, CI 1.0-8.1).

CONCLUSION: Transient neonatal cholestasis is associated with several contributing factors related to the severity of the neonatal distress. Asphyxia is frequently accompanied by cholestasis in this group of newborns and without symptoms other than uncomplicated cholestasis. Investigations should be focussed on conditions requiring immediate therapy.