Biliary Atresia | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of biliary atresia?

Infants with biliary atresia may be born with jaundice, but usually appear healthy at birth. Most often, you or your child's pediatrician will notice signs within the first few weeks of your child's life. These may include:

  • jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • dark urine
  • light-colored stools

Signs that may appear later include:

  • distended (swollen) abdomen
  • weight loss

These are later signs, not usually in the first months of life.

What causes biliary atresia?

We know that biliary atresia is caused by inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts, but what causes the inflammation and scarring is still unknown.

There are three types of biliary atresia:

  • biliary atresia without any other malformations: this is the most common type seen in ~85 percent of the babies
  • biliary atresia with at least one major malformation but without laterality ~5 percent
  • biliary atresia with laterality defects ~10 percent, this is what was previously called biliary atresia splenic malformation syndrome.