What is biliary atresia?
Biliary atresia is associated with inflammation that targets the bile ducts or "biliary tree." The biliary tree is a series of "tubes" that drain bile from the liver into the intestines. At the time of diagnosis (in infancy), the large bile duct that exits the liver is blocked, resulting in liver damage. Without proper bile drainage, the infant and child has impaired digestion of fats leading to poor growth. In addition, the bile that is "stuck" in the liver damages liver cells, leading to scarring of the liver.
What causes biliary atresia?
The cause of biliary atresia is not known and is the focus of research nationwide.
Who gets biliary atresia?
Biliary atresia always presents in the first three months of life. In the United States, biliary atresia occurs in one in 10,000 to 15,000 live births. Biliary atresia affects girls slightly more frequently than boys and occurs in all races and ethnicities.