Familial neonatal hemochromatosis with survival

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. Jan-Feb 1988;7(1):39-45. doi: 10.1097/00005176-198801000-00009.


We report two sisters with neonatal hemochromatosis (NHC), including the first documented survivor. Characterized by excessive parenchymal iron in liver, pancreas, heart, and other organs, but little iron in the spleen, bone marrow, or other sites of the reticuloendothelial system, NHC is rarely reported and has been uniformly fatal. The first infant (case 1) presented with neonatal hypoglycemia, coagulopathy, and mild hyperbilirubinemia; she rapidly deteriorated and died of multisystem failure. Autopsy showed cirrhosis. Her sister (case 2) presented similarly; liver biopsy showed giant cell hepatitis, which is consistent with idiopathic neonatal hepatitis (INHP). However, iron staining revealed that case 1 had extensive iron deposits in the liver, pancreas, heart, thymus, and bone, but none in bone marrow or spleen. Case 2 had grade 4 liver iron staining, normal bone marrow iron, elevated serum ferritin and transferrin saturation, and HLA-A3 haplotype. At 16 months of age, the growth, development, and serum measures of iron status in case 2 were normal; liver biopsy showed fibrosis, negative iron staining, and normal tissue iron concentration. NHC is compatible with survival, has clinicopathologic features that overlap with INHP, and may frequently be misdiagnosed as INHP. A prospective study is needed to determine the incidence and natural history of NHC--a disorder that may be more common than is currently recognized.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Hemochromatosis / congenital*
  • Hemochromatosis / genetics
  • Hemochromatosis / mortality
  • Hemochromatosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology


  • Iron