Elevated Liver Enzymes in Babies

The liver is a complex organ that carries out many important functions in babies. Located in the right upper part of the abdomen, the liver helps detoxify the body from noxious drugs and substances. It also stores vitamins and minerals, produces proteins and enzymes, and manufactures clotting compounds. When the liver is damaged, its enzymes escape into the bloodstream where they can be detected by a series of blood tests. An elevation of the liver enzymes in babies can indicate serious health problems.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Enzymes

The liver enzymes are detected in a battery of tests called the liver or hepatic panel. The main enzymes used to check for liver damage are AST, or aspartate transaminase, and ALT, and alanine transaminase. According to Lab Tests Online, ALT is useful in the detection and diagnosis of liver disease because it is released into the bloodstream before more obvious signs of liver disease appear. AST is not as specific to a baby’s liver disease, as this enzyme is also present in a baby’s saliva and muscle cells.

Causes

According to the Nemours Foundation, the term hepatitis denotes an inflammation of the liver, regardless of the cause 2. The elevation of the liver enzymes reflects hepatitis. The most common causes of elevated liver enzymes in babies include the hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A, B, and C; infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, which cause:

  • premature birth
  • seizures
  • jaundice,
  • elevation of the liver enzymes

Other causes of elevated liver enzymes in babies include biliary atresia, in which the bile ducts, the tubes that drain bile into the intestine, become blocked, leading to liver damage; and autoimmune liver disease, in which the body’s own immune system attacks the liver tissue.cause

  • Other causes of elevated liver enzymes in babies include biliary atresia
  • in which the bile ducts
  • the tubes that drain bile into the intestine
  • become blocked
  • leading to liver damage;
  • autoimmune liver disease
  • in which the body’s own immune system attacks the liver tissue

Symptoms

According to the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital website, biliary atresia causes dark urine, pale stools, jaundice, easy bleeding and itching.cause:

  • According to the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital website
  • biliary atresia causes dark urine
  • pale stools
  • jaundice
  • easy bleeding
  • itching

Complications

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