Can your child contain copper? If not, it could be a liver problem. There are several pediatric liver problems, but specialists at known city hospitals can help provide much needed relief.
Out of the hundred liver diseases that could affect children, each with its own array of complications, there are certain indicators that parents can watch out for and consult their pediatric liver specialist without delay. Commonly known symptoms are:
- Pale stools
- Passing of blood while defecating
- Yellow coloured urine
Besides these, one also needs to be alert to certain changes in sleep patterns and appetite particularly when the child complains of poor appetite or a caretaker discerns loss of appetite. In today’s hectic lifestyle, with the ills of being cooped up at home instead of playing outdoors, a child is bound to have poor appetite due to lack of exercise and free play in the sunshine, like the previous generation. This is why family members need to be vigilant, in order to derive the right cause behind loss of appetite in a child.
Not just symptoms, parents should also keep themselves abreast of various childhood liver diseases like:
Sardinia and a few Eastern European countries report a higher incidence of this particular condition in which the body is unable to handle copper, causing it to accumulate in the brain and the liver and eventually become toxic. It is estimated that among two-thirds of those afflicted with this inherited condition, before fifteen years of age, tend to have liver disease. Dark chocolate, nuts, shellfish greatly increase the copper proportion in our body. Actually, the cause of Wilson’s disease is gene mutation but the good part is it’s autosomal recessive, meaning only if one mutant gene is inherited from each parent, will the child acquire it. Further, the gene, ATP 7B, makes liver cells create a protein that serves as a copper pump and when the child has inherited the two faulty genes, the copper pump cannot pump out the copper into the bile (as a result of the former not having been formed properly)
Simply put, Hepatitis A is inflammation of the liver. Shellfish and seafood that is mainly consumed raw such as mussels, and oysters cause infection through food poisoning and the hepatitis virus gets carried in the digestive tract. Poor hygiene among infected children such as not washing hands after going to the toilet, will spread this to other children.
In the pre icteric phase of Hepatitis, older children often complain of headache while loose stools are rampant among enfants. In the icteric phase, there is abdominal tenderness due to inflamed liver.
Serology can diagnose Hepatitis.
Alpha -1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
This protein prevents tissue damage which occurs due to over-activity of enzymes called proteases and when people suffer from alpha – 1 antitrypsin deficiency, a different type of protein is produced, which gets trapped in the liver. A child with alpha – 1 antitrypsin deficiency, may develop an inflamed liver which will further result in extensive liver damage. But parents need not get alarmed. This can be detected within the first four months after a baby is born. However, when a child is older, he may show the following symptoms:
- Portal hypertension
Parents should keep a close tab and have blood tests conducted if they notice recurrent nose bleeds, swollen abdomen, swollen ankles more so in the evenings, or flaring up of jaundice.
Another reassuring factor is that all children with alpha – 1 antitrypsin deficiency, are not potential candidates for chronic liver problems. In fact, only a mere 25% of these children may need a liver transplant.
In India, pediatric liver specialists are available in hospitals such as Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre , Wockhardt Hospital etc.