Etiologies of conjugated hyperbilirubinemia in infancy: a systematic review of 1692 subjects

BMC Pediatr. 2015 Nov 20;15:192. doi: 10.1186/s12887-015-0506-5.


Background: The etiologies of conjugated hyperbilirubinemia in infancy are diverse.

Objective: Determine the prevalence rates of the specific etiologies of conjugated hyperbilirubinemia in infancy.

Data sources: EMBASE and Pubmed were searched electronically and the bibliographies of selected studies were search manually. The search was conducted independently by two authors.

Study selection: (1) prospective or retrospective case series or cohort study with 10 or more subjects; (2) consecutive infants who presented with conjugated hyperbilirubinemia; (3) subjects underwent appropriate diagnostic work-up for conjugated hyperbilirubinemia; (4) no specific diagnoses were excluded in the studied cohort.

Data extraction: Patient number, age range, country of origin, and categorical and specific etiologies.

Results: From 237 studies identified, 17 studies encompassing 1692 infants were selected. Idiopathic neonatal hepatitis (INH) occurred in 26.0% of cases; the most common specific etiologies were extrahepatic biliary atresia (EHBA) (25.89%), infection (11.47%), TPN- associated cholestasis (6.44%), metabolic disease (4.37%), alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency (4.14%), and perinatal hypoxia/ischemia (3.66%). CMV was the most common infection identified (31.51%) and galactosemia (36.49%) was the most common metabolic disease identified.

Limitations: Major limitations are: (1) inconsistencies in the diagnostic evaluations among the different studies and (2) variations among the sample populations.

Conclusions: INH is the most common diagnosis for conjugated hyperbilirubinemia in infancy while EHBA and infection are the most commonly identified etiologies. The present review is intended to be a guide to the differential diagnosis and evaluation of the infant presenting with conjugated hyperbilirubinemia.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / diagnosis
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / etiology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn