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The effects of gestational age on neonatal cholestasis, a retrospective cohort study.

BACKGROUND: Reference guidelines for neonatal conjugated hyperbilirubinemia (cholestasis) management use a uniform approach regardless of gestational age (GA). We hypothesize that the clinical pattern of neonatal cholestasis is tightly related to GA. The aim of this study was to describe the effects of GA on neonatal cholestasis.

METHODS: A retrospective 4-year cohort study in a 70-beds neonatal care unit. Neonates with conjugated bilirubin≥34.2μmol/L (2 mg/dL) were identified. The incidence, clinical characteristics, etiology, treatment, and prognosis were compared between infants <32 and≥32 weeks GA.

RESULTS: Overall incidence of cholestasis was 4% (125/3402). It was >5 times higher and the mean duration was >1.5 times longer in neonates <32 weeks GA (10% versus 1.8%, p <0.01 and 49 versus 31 days, p <0.01, respectively). The onset of cholestasis was later in neonates <32 weeks (22 versus 10 days of life, p <0.001). This later onset of cholestasis was associated with parenteral nutrition, whereas the earlier onset was associated with other causes. Treatment using fish oil lipids was more frequently administrated to infants <32 weeks GA, whereas Ursodeoxycholic acid was administrated more frequently in≥32 weeks GA. Cholestasis resolved during hospitalization in 73% of <32 versus 38% in≥32 weeks GA infants (p <0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: The incidence, clinical presentation, etiology, treatment, and clinical evolution of neonatal cholestasis were all significantly affected by gestational age. Our results support the use of a GA-oriented approach for the management of neonatal cholestasis.

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