Bilibaby: an ongoing project to develop a screening test to be able to detect bilirubin in stool to screen for childhood liver diseases
Professor Alastair Sutcliffe of King’s College London discusses his research and what it means for the future of treating childhood liver disease.
What is this study looking at?
This study is looking into ways to identify biliary atresia (BA) in newborns by looking at the stool (poo) of babies born with BA. The researchers have produced a testing stick which can test stool for neonatal cholestasis.
The stick changes colour from colourless to pink when no problem is detected with the stool but remains colourless when there is a problem with bile flow.This funding has been awarded to enable further testing of the stick. Nurses at King’s College London will collect stool samples from all babies with BA over a 6 month period, as well as from other babies to test the accuracy of the stick.
Why is this research important?
At the moment healthcare professionals use their judgement to tell whether or not a stool is a healthy colour or whether it is pale, which could be a warning sign of liver disease. Sometimes this can be difficult as it is a very subjective process.
The stick would allow midwives to test all babies’ stool and would tell midwives whether or not the baby may have a problem with their liver due to a reduced bile flow.
What about the future?
If the study is successful the research team will look to develop and produce the testing stick which will help healthcare professionals to identify diseases such as BA in newborns at an early stage in order to improve the outcome for patients with BA.