Objectives: The aim of the study was to assess neurodevelopmental outcomes among children with biliary atresia (BA) surviving with their native liver at ages 3 to 12 years and evaluate variables that associate with neurodevelopment.
Methods: Participants (ages 3-12 years) in a prospective, longitudinal, multicenter study underwent neurodevelopmental testing with Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, 3rd edition (WPPSI-III, ages 3-5 years) and Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th edition (WISC-IV, ages 6-12 years). Continuous scores were analyzed using Kolmogorov-Smironov tests compared with a normal distribution (mean = 100 ± 15). Effect of covariates on Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) was analyzed using linear regression.
Results: Ninety-three participants completed 164 WPPSI-III (mean age 3.9) and 51 WISC-IV (mean age 6.9) tests. WPPSI-III FSIQ (104 ± 14, P < 0.02), Verbal IQ (106 ± 14, P < 0.001), and General Language Composite (107 ± 16, P < 0.001) distributions were shifted higher compared with test norms. WISC-IV FSIQ (105 ± 12, P < 0.01), Perceptual Reasoning Index (107 ± 12, P < 0.01), and Processing Speed Index (105 ± 10, P < 0.02) also shifted upwards. In univariate and multivariable analysis, parent education (P < 0.01) was a significant predictor of FSIQ on WPPSI-III and positively associated with WISC-IV FSIQ. Male sex and higher total bilirubin and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) predicted lower WPPSI-III FSIQ. Portal hypertension was predictive of lower WISC-IV FSIQ.
Conclusions: This cohort of children with BA and native liver did not demonstrate higher prevalence of neurodevelopmental delays. Markers of advanced liver disease (higher total bilirubin and GGT for age ≤5 years; portal hypertension for age ≥6) correlate with lower FSIQ and may identify a vulnerable subset of patients who would benefit from intervention.