What is biliary atresia in babies, why it should be addressed immediately

What age does biliary atresia start?
Some babies are born with obstruction in the bile-carrying tubes in the liver. Representative image: AgFang / iStockPhoto.com

When a baby is diagnosed with biliary atresia, surgery is prescribed immediately. However, parents often have apprehensions as to whether the disease will be completely cured after surgery or not.

In fact, the liver is a very important organ in our digestive system. Bile, produced by the liver, is essential for digesting the food we eat, especially fat. Bile drains from the liver through small ducts and ends outside the liver in a large bile duct. This duct then carries bile to the front of our small intestine. Some babies are born with obstruction in these tubes. This condition is biliary atresia.

Generally, bile is what gives stool its yellow colour. Therefore, these babies will have a less yellow stool. Instead, the body will be more yellow. Similarly, the urine is dark yellow or brown in colour. It is very important to recognize this problem at a very young age.

Bile duct obstruction surgery is best done before the baby is six weeks old. Otherwise, liver function may be severely impaired, and a liver transplant may be required. All post-operative babies require long-term follow-up. If the first surgery is successful, then major problems can be avoided.

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