Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency affects children differently. One child may not show any signs of liver disease and another child may be seriously affected. Overall, only a small percentage of children develop liver disease related to AATD.
There is no cure for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. If severe liver disease develops, a liver transplant is currently the only option available for survival. The goal of treatment is to relieve the symptoms.
- Medicine may be given for severe itching.
- Diuretics (“water pills”) may be used to help reduce the buildup of fluid in the belly.
- A healthy diet and vitamin supplements can provide needed nutrients and may increase overall health.
- Vitamin / nutrition supplements may increase the effectiveness of the digestive process and increase energy levels.
Transplantation results in a cure of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. If a transplant is the best treatment option, the doctor and the other members of the patient care team focus on preventing complications. They will treat symptoms while your child waits for a donated liver. A liver transplant totally replaces the abnormal liver cells that produce the abnormal alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and corrects the protein abnormality.
It is critical for a child with AATD to avoid smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke.