Objective: Exclusively breast-fed infants with unrecognized cholestatic jaundice are at high risk of a vitamin K deficiency (VKD) bleeding. It is presently unknown whether (the size of) this risk depends on the degree of cholestasis. Since alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (A1ATD) induces a variable degree of cholestasis, we assessed the risk of VKD bleeding in infants with cholestatic jaundice due to A1ATD.
Patients and methods: Infants with a ZZ or SZ phenotype born in the Netherlands between January 1991 and December 2006 were identified from the databases of the 5 Dutch diagnostic centres for alpha-1-antitrypsin phenotyping and/or genotyping. We determined the risk of VKD bleeding upon diagnosis of A1ATD in breastfed and formula-fed infants and searched for correlations between serum levels of conjugated bilirubin and the risk of bleeding.
Results: A total of 40 infants with A1ATD were studied. VKD bleeding was noted in 15/20 (75%) of breast-fed infants, compared with 0/20 of formula-fed infants with A1ATD. The relative risk for VKD bleeding in breast-fed versus formula-fed infants was at least 15.8 (95% confidence interval 2.3 to 108). Conjugated bilirubin levels at diagnosis did not correlate with the risk of VKD bleeding.
Conclusions: The risk of VKD bleeding in breast-fed infants with A1ATD was high and did not correlate with serum level of conjugated bilirubin at diagnosis. A similar absolute risk was previously reported in breast-fed infants with biliary atresia under the same prophylactic regimen. This confirms that - without adequate prophylaxis - the risk of VKD bleeding is uniformly high in exclusively breast-fed infants with cholestatic jaundice, irrespective of underlying etiology.
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