Liver Failure In Children

The liver, which is the largest organ inside the abdomen, aids in processing other foreign substances, employing medications, and filtering hazardous or poisonous compounds out of the blood. The liver also aids in food digestion. It produces proteins to build the body's cells and tissues, stores and releases energy, and enables blood clotting.

When the liver is damaged to the point where it can no longer function at all, liver failure occurs. Even in young children, liver failure is a possibility, although uncommon. While many of them bounce back quickly, some have severe illnesses and may require liver transplants to survive.

In children, there are primarily two types of liver failure:

  • Acute liver failure: Children who have never been diagnosed with liver disease can experience acute liver failure.
  • Chronic liver failure: This kind develops when a chronic liver condition gets significantly worse, either gradually or suddenly.


Viruses, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and hepatitis A, B, and E.

  • Metabolic disorder
  • Medications induced
  • Immune-system issues
  • Low hepatic blood flow due to heart failure or blood vessel blockage
  • Genetic disorders
  • Bile ducts diseases


  • Drowsiness/Loss of consciousness
  • Body aches
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Bruising easily or bleeding profusely
  • Swollen abdomen from fluid accumulation


Liver failure can be detected at early stages by good clinical history, examination and investigations. The early stages of liver failure might be challenging to diagnose without sophisticated diagnostics. This is so, because many different ailments have symptoms that are similar. As additional symptoms develop, tests will be carried out to look for:

  • High amounts of bilirubin, jaundice
  • High levels of liver enzymes
  • Blood clotting issues
  • Signs of encephalopathy (brain damage)