Aim: To assess the prevalence of gallstones in normal neonates.
Method: We used sonography to assess the gallbladder in 3500 unselected infants between 1993 and 1995. Examination was performed during the first four days of life as part of a prospective neonatal screening study evaluating hip and renal abnormalities.
Results: We found sludge or gallstones in 19 children (0.5%). In 4 of 11 patients followed for up to 18 months, the gallstones persisted. In 3 of the cases, there was a family history of gallstones. None of the children had signs of cholestasis. Three were treated with ursodesoxycholic acid 15-20 mg/kg (per day): only one responded.
Conclusion: About 0.5% of neonates have gallstones or gall bladder sludge; this is a higher percentage than previously thought. In one-third of the patients who were followed, the gallstones remained. Persistence was more likely in those with a positive family history for gallstones.