Neonatal hemochromatosis: outcomes of pharmacologic and surgical therapies

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1998 Jan;26(1):85-9. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199801000-00015.


Background: Neonatal hemochromatosis (NH), also known as perinatal hemochromatosis or neonatal iron storage disease, is a disorder in fetuses and newborn infants. A retrospective study was conducted to report management of patients with NH.

Methods: Retrospective analysis was conducted by chart review and by review of histologic material from patients with NH.

Results: Neonatal hemochromatosis was diagnosed in 14 patients between 1985 and 1995. All were considered for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTX). From 1993 onward, all patients were treated with an antioxidant-chelation "cocktail," consisting of deferoxamine, vitamin E, N-acetylcysteine, selenium, and prostaglandin-E1. Of 6 patients with NH diagnosed before 1993, 4 underwent OLTX; only 1 is still alive. Of 8 patients with NH diagnosed after 1993 and treated with the cocktail, 7 expired before OLTX. One stabilized on therapy, but having never recovered full synthetic liver function, underwent OLTX and is now alive and well.

Conclusion: Neonatal hemochromatosis carries a grim prognosis; however, successful OLTX is curative. The use of an antioxidant-chelation cocktail did not improve outcome in the patients studied. Earlier (perinatal) diagnosis may be required for optimal results. Further study of other interventions, including antenatal diagnosis and earlier institution or modification of cocktail therapy appears warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / therapeutic use
  • Alprostadil / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Deferoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Hemochromatosis / drug therapy*
  • Hemochromatosis / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Selenium / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Chelating Agents
  • Vitamin E
  • Alprostadil
  • Selenium
  • Deferoxamine
  • Acetylcysteine