Biliary atresia is the most common cause of death from liver disease in children. Although the Kasai operation before 60 days of age can significantly improve prognosis, delay in referral and surgery remains a formidable problem worldwide because of difficulties in differentiating it from benign prolonged neonatal jaundice. We established a universal screening system using an infant stool color card to promote the early diagnosis and treatment of biliary atresia. After a pilot regional study in 2002-2003, a national stool color screening system was established by integrating the infant stool color card into the child health booklet given to every neonate in Taiwan since 2004. Within 24 hours of the discovery of an abnormal stool color, this event is reported to the registry center. The annual incidence of biliary atresia per 10,000 live births in 2004 and 2005 was 1.85 (40/216,419) and 1.70 (35/205,854), respectively. The sensitivity of detecting biliary atresia using stool cards before 60 days of age was 72.5% in 2004, which improved to 97.1% in 2005. The national rate of the Kasai operation before 60 days of age increased from 60% in 2004 to 74.3% in 2005. The jaundice-free rate (<2 mg/dL) at 3 months after the Kasai operation among infants with biliary atresia in 2004-2005 was 59.5% (44 of 74), significantly higher than the historical data of 37.0% in 1976-2000 before the stool card screening program (P = 0.002). Conclusion: Universal screening using the stool color cards can enhance earlier referral, which may ultimately lead to timely performance of the Kasai operation and better postoperative outcome in infants with biliary atresia
Department of Pediatrics, Cardinal Tien Hospital Yung Ho Branch, Taipei, Taiwan.