One hundred and three infants with prolonged cholestasis beginning before 3 months were classified as having alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (17 patients), scanty interlobular bile ducts (16 patients), or "neonatal hepatitis" (70 patients). Twenty-two gradually developed chronic liver disease and the remaining 81 recovered within a few months. Prognosis was found to be poor for infants with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, scanty interlobular bile ducts, and familial "idiopathic" hepatitis. Patients who developed cirrhosis often presented with severe and persistent neonatal cholestasis, mimicking extrahepatic biliary atresia and leading to laparotomy. Thus, a high-risk group of infants-defined by aetiology, family history, and degree of cholestasis-can be recognised in the first months of life.
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