Drug-induced liver injury in children

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2015 Oct;27(5):625-33. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000264.


Purpose of review: Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is an underrecognized cause of pediatric liver disease, accounts for almost 20% of pediatric acute liver failure cases, and is a major reason for liver transplantation in the USA. This article reviews the pathogenesis of DILI, approach to diagnosis and management, and highlights recent pediatric DILI case series.

Recent findings: Select individuals have an increased propensity to develop DILI. Known genetic polymorphisms of enzymes and host factors play an important role in medication management and influence the clinical outcome in 20-25% of all drug therapies. Children are more likely to have mitochondrial dysfunction from drugs, increasing their susceptibility to severe liver injury or acute liver failure. Antibiotics and central nervous system agents account for the majority of pediatric DILI in the West, although herbals are becoming more common.

Summary: Clinical features of DILI vary and overlap so exclusion of other conditions, identification of latency period and risk factors, and use of a searchable database can aid evaluation. Treatment consists of cessation of the offending agent and supportive care. Areas needing further research include elucidating mechanisms, identifying at risk individuals, and therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / epidemiology*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Fluoroquinolones / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors