Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Children With Liver Diseases: a Systematic Review

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of the study was to determine the neurodevelopmental outcomes of children with liver diseases based on a systematical review of the literature.

Method:

A literature search according to the PRISMA statement was conducted using predefined search terms in PubMed, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO. The inclusion criterion was studies published from 2000 onwards that reported on the neurodevelopmental outcomes of term-born children with liver diseases. A narrative synthesis was done to appraise the studies.

Results:

Twenty-five studies were included (1913 children), 19 of which described children after liver transplantation (LTx; 1372 children). Sixty-seven percentage of the studies on children with liver diseases who survived with their native livers showed low-average or abnormal scores on specific subscales of cognitive and behavioral measures. In studies on children after LTx, this was 82%. After LTx, 83% of studies demonstrated impaired outcomes on behavior, whereas 42% of children received special education. Motor development was impaired in 82% of studies in children with native liver and after LTx.

Limitations:

Studies were heterogenic because of sample sizes, etiology of liver disease and type of assessment tools used.

Conclusions:

More than two-third of included studies showed neurodevelopmental deficits in children with liver diseases, affecting all neurodevelopmental areas. Knowledge on risk factors for impaired neurodevelopment is limited and lack of long-term follow-up is worrying, especially considering the increasing survival rates, resulting in more at-risk patients. Studying early predictors and risk factors of abnormal developmental trajectories of children with liver diseases is indicated to assess strategies to improve their long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes.

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