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We offer treatment from birth through young adulthood for the whole range of gastrointestinal and liver diseases. We also treat other conditions not listed here.
Many diseases, including hepatitis and autoimmune hepatitis, can affect your child’s liver. The liver can also be damaged by poisons, herbs and even some medicines – a condition called drug- or toxin-induced liver disease. Some short-term (acute) liver diseases can be treated. Others can cause the liver to stop working, which is called liver failure. When liver failure results from a sudden illness, it is called acute liver failure. Learn more about liver diseases and liver failure.
Pancreatitis is swelling and redness (inflammation) in the organ called the pancreas. The pancreas makes hormones that control blood sugar and juices that help break down food. The juices usually don't become active until they move to the small intestine, where they break down (digest) food. If the juices become active while still in the pancreas, they can begin digesting the organ itself. Some children develop sudden cases of pancreatitis that end quickly (acute pancreatitis). When acute pancreatitis triggers repeated attacks, the disease is called chronic pancreatitis.
Alagille syndrome is an inherited (genetic) disorder. It can affect multiple organs, including the liver. Children with Alagille syndrome may have too few bile ducts in the liver. This causes problems with the way bile moves and makes it hard for the body to remove toxins.
Alpha-1-AT deficiency is an inherited (genetic) disease that causes the body to make too much of a protein called alpha-1-AT. This protein gets stuck in the liver instead of moving into the bloodstream to help other body parts, like the lungs. If the liver isn’t able to get rid of it, the extra protein can scar the liver and damage it.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic disease of the liver which results from the patient’s own immune systems attacking the cells of the liver. The trigger for the immune attack is not well understood but there is an increased risk in families with other autoimmune diseases. The patient may present with a spectrum of disease from severe acute liver failure through a more insidious course ultimately where the disease is only revealed when significant chronic liver injury (cirrhosis) is present. Treatment is with corticosteroids and other immunomodulatory medications.
Learn about biliary atresia.
Learn about celiac disease.
Cholestasis means that the flow of bile is reduced or blocked. Bile is a fluid that helps with digestion. Several liver problems can scar the bile ducts or make them swollen, which can block bile. They include hepatitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis. Babies can be born with a number of conditions that may cause problems with the way bile moves. Three of these conditions are biliary atresia, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) and Alagille syndrome.
Learn about choledochal cyst.
Cirrhosis is severe scarring of the liver. In people with cirrhosis, scar tissue replaces healthy tissue over time. This causes less blood to flow through the liver and makes the liver unable to work as well. While many people think cirrhosis is caused by alcohol use, it can have other causes, such as hepatitis, fatty liver disease, diseases that damage or destroy the bile ducts and metabolic liver disease.
Learn about constipation (PDF) (Spanish).
Learn about Crohn’s disease.
Cystic fibrosis is a condition that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up and clog some parts of the body. Most often, the mucus clogs the lungs and pancreas, but it can also affect the liver. When mucus clogs the liver, fluids are not able to flow as they should. This can cause scarring or swelling and affect the way the liver works.
Failure to thrive is a phrase used to describe children whose weight or rate of weight gain is far below that of other children of the same age and sex. The condition has many causes. In some cases, children who fail to thrive may not be receiving the calories they need to gain weight and grow as expected. Or, their bodies may not be able to take in, keep or use those calories properly. Most of the time, failure to thrive is diagnosed in the first few years of life – a crucial period of physical growth and brain development. Read more.
When people – children or adults – are overweight or obese, fat can build up in their livers. Sometimes, the buildup causes no problems. But having fat in the liver can cause lasting damage. Over time, fat in the liver can lead to swelling or scarring, and the liver may no longer work properly.
Learn about gallstones.
Gastroparesis is a condition where the stomach is not able to empty properly. It is sometimes caused by damage to the nerve that manages the digestive system (vagus nerve).
Learn about gastroschisis.
Children with Gilbert’s syndrome have livers that don’t process bilirubin properly. Bilirubin is a normal byproduct of red blood cells. One of the symptoms of Gilbert’s syndrome is jaundice (yellow tinge to the skin and eyes). The syndrome is an inherited (genetic) condition.
Hepatitis is a liver disease that is usually caused by a virus. Hepatitis B and C are both caused by viruses that move from one person to another through blood or other body fluids. A woman with one of these viruses and give hepatitis B or C to her baby at birth. Both are serious infections, and can eventually lead to scarring of the liver or liver cancer. Learn more about hepatitis and HBV.
Learn about Hirschsprung disease.
Idiopathic means of unknown cause. Idiopathic constipation refers to being unable to pass stool on a regular basis. The reason for the problem does not seem to be related to poor diet or have physical cause. It is one of the most common digestive problems that children experience.
Learn about imperforate anus.
Learn about infectious diarrhea.
Learn about IBD.
Learn about intestinal failure.
Learn about intestinal malrotation.
Learn about lactose intolerance.
Learn about liver failure.
Learn about liver masses and tumors.
Malabsorption disorders are problems with processing or absorbing nutrients from food and drink. This may be due to the fact that the body makes too little of a complex protein (enzyme) needed to break down a food. This is the case with lactose intolerance, a problem with processing milk and milk products. Having too much stomach acid, not enough bile or too many of the wrong kinds of bacteria in the small intestine can also cause malabsorption disorders.
Metabolic diseases affect the way your child’s cells break down or get rid of toxic substances in the body. Often, these diseases are passed down in a family. Several metabolic diseases affect the liver. A few examples are glycogen storage disease, Wilson disease and alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Motility disorders involve problems with the tissues, nerves or muscles that control the digestive system. The problems may be anywhere from the esophagus (food tube from the mouth to the stomach) to the anus. Read more about our Motility Program.
Learn about necrotizing enterocolitis.
Extra fat on the liver can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In severe cases, this leads to swelling and scarring of the liver, called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a serious condition that can prevent the liver from working properly.
The pancreas makes hormones that control blood sugar and juices that help break down food. Pancreatic insufficiency occurs when your child's pancreas doesn't make enough of the juices needed to break down food and drink (digestion). Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common causes of pancreatic insufficiency in children.
Learn about peptic ulcers.
Portal hypertension is high blood pressure in the portal vein, which brings blood from the intestine to the liver. The high blood pressure occurs when the flow of blood through the liver is blocked. The condition can cause new veins to develop. These new veins can allow blood to circulate without going through the liver. When this happens, substances that are usually filtered out by the liver may move throughout your child’s bloodstream. The new veins also can cause bleeding into the stomach.
PSC is a chronic liver disease caused by inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts of the liver. The underlying cause of the inflammation is thought to be autoimmunity. Many patients with PSC also have inflammatory bowel disease. Progression is usually slow but may lead to jaundice, itching and cirrhosis. There is no known cure and treatment is directed at symptoms.
PFIC refers to a group of inherited (genetic) diseases of the liver that tend to worsen over time. Children with this condition are born with a liver that isn’t able to clear toxins properly. Depending on which genes are affected, the disease may be mild or severe.
Learn about pyloric stenosis.
Learn about short bowel syndrome.
Learn about tethered spinal cord.
Learn about TEF and EA.
Learn about ulcerative colitis.
Seattle Children’s provides healthcare without regard to race, color, religion (creed), sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin (ancestry) or disability. Financial assistance for medically necessary services is based on family income and hospital resources and is provided to children under age 21 whose primary residence is in Washington, Alaska, Montana or Idaho.
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