Liver Disease in Children

Comprehensive Care for Your Child's Liver Disease

Children with liver disease receive expert care at Duke from our pediatric hepatologists. We are the largest pediatric liver center in North Carolina and treat a wide range of children's liver disorders. When possible, our experts treat the underlying cause of liver disease, prevent further liver damage, and work to restore your child’s health so they can experience a better quality of life. 

Specialized Treatment for Childhood Liver Diseases

There are many different factors that can result in liver disease in children. That's why our specialists’ first goal is to identify the cause of your child’s liver disease. Some of the common liver diseases that affect children include:

  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder that damages the liver
  • Autoimmune hepatitis, liver inflammation caused by an overactive immune system
  • Biliary atresia, inflammation in the bile ducts that carry digestive juices
  • Glycogen storage disease, a buildup of glycogen, or sugar, in the liver
  • Pediatric liver cancer
  • Pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which results from fat buildup in the liver
  • Pediatric metabolic liver disease, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s metabolism
  • Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder that causes copper buildup in the liver as well as liver injuries

As a major pediatric liver center, we draw on the expertise of many different specialists to treat your child’s liver disease. Depending on your child’s individual needs, their care team may include a pediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist as well as nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and dietitians who have years of experience treating children with liver diseases. If necessary, we also draw upon the expertise of Duke specialists in genetics, immunology, metabolism, nephrology, cardiology, and infectious diseases.

Expertise in Pediatric Liver Diseases

Our expertise in treating children with complex liver diseases is well known.

  • We are one of only a handful of programs in the nation to manage liver injury and liver scarring in children following Fontan surgery for complex congenital heart defects.
  • We offer North Carolina’s highest level of specialty care for children with a rare condition called portal hypertension liver disease. It can occur when the portal vein -- which carries blood to the liver -- is narrowed or blocked.
  • If your child needs liver surgery, you can be confident in the range of our expertise. Duke Children’s is one of only seven hospitals in the U.S. verified as a level I children's surgery center by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care to our young patients.
  • If a liver transplant is necessary, your child is in excellent hands. Our pediatric liver transplant program is the largest in the region, and our survival rates exceed the national average.
  • Many of our doctors are actively involved in research, which means your child may be eligible to receive innovative therapies only available through participation in clinical trials.
  • Many pediatric liver diseases must be monitored on a regular basis. We work with your child’s local doctor to coordinate lab tests and manage your child’s treatment plan so you can stay as close to home as possible and appropriate.

Tests and Treatments

Diagnosing your child’s liver disease is our first concern. Our work with leaders in pediatric imaging from across the U.S. ensures we use the latest innovations to diagnose your child’s condition with the lowest doses of radiation possible or no radiation, when needed. Armed with this knowledge, we recommend a safe treatment plan.

Family and Support Services

When you bring your child to Duke Children’s, our team will answer all your questions and be with you every step of the way. Our doctors and nurses will also connect your family to other hospital services for the extra care you need.

Patient resources

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