One hundred and twenty-five children with chronic liver disease were seen in Pune in 13 months. Fifty-nine of them, aged 8-39 months, had Indian childhood cirrhosis histologically diagnosed. Their characteristics included an insidious onset of symptoms, a geographical clustering of cases in rural areas north-east of Pune, a high rate of parental consanguinity and affected siblings, and a very high hepatic copper concentration (790-6654 micrograms/g dry weight). Only 8 survived for 6 months, adverse prognostic features being jaundice, ascites, enlargement of the gall bladder, and severe anaemia at presentation. Clinical differentiation from other liver disorders in the same age group was clear in advanced cases but unreliable in earlier cases. Four asymptomatic siblings with hepatomegaly had a benign course. The need for non-invasive methods to diagnose early cases in the community is demonstrated. The other major diagnostic categories were: unresolved hepatitis (12); chronic active hepatitis (7); cryptogenic cirrhosis (6); neonatal hepatitis and biliary atresia (8).
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