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Biliary Atresia


Biliary atresia is a disease that damages an infant's liver before or shortly after birth. Bile ducts carry bile from your baby's liver to his small intestines. Bile helps digest food. When your baby's bile ducts are damaged, bile is trapped in the liver. This can cause cirrhosis (scarring), swelling, and advance to liver failure. The cause of biliary atresia is not known.



  • Your baby may be given medicines to stop itching, decrease bile from his liver, and decrease body fluid. Ask your baby's healthcare provider for more information about the medicines your baby is given.
  • Antibiotics are given to prevent infections caused by bacteria. Give your child this medicine exactly as ordered by his healthcare provider. Do not stop giving your child the antibiotics unless directed by his healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or give your child leftover antibiotics that were given to him for another illness.
  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your baby's healthcare provider as directed:

Your baby will need to return for monitoring of his symptoms, nutrition, and growth. He will also need more testing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


A dietitian will talk to you about your baby's feeding and nutrition. Ask if you can breastfeed your baby or what milk you should feed him. Also ask for more information if your baby needs high-calorie feedings through a nasogastric (NG) tube.

Contact your baby's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your baby is irritable and crying more than usual.
  • Your baby's skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have any questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your baby has more jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) than before.
  • Your baby has trouble breathing, or his lips and fingernails are turning blue.
  • Your baby is not able to eat or drink, or is urinating less or not at all.
  • Your baby has a seizure.
  • Your baby looks very weak or sleeps more than usual.
  • Your baby's vomit has blood in it.
  • Your baby's wound or bandage has pus or a bad smell even if you are cleaning it every day.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Biliary Atresia (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.