To systematically review the social outcomes of patients with biliary atresia (BA), including educational, employment and family outcomes.
We conducted a systematic review of Medline, EMBASE, Global Health, Maternity and Infant Care Database, supplemented by reference searching. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute scoring was conducted for quality assessment. The PROSPERO registration ID was CRD42020178846.
Fifty-one studies were included (41 cohort, 10 cross-sectional), including 4631 participants across 16 countries. Cohorts were BA post-liver transplant (LT) (18 studies), native liver survivors (NLS) (16 studies), mixed (13 studies) and four other cohorts. Outcomes covered; education (n = 35), employment (n = 16), family outcomes (n = 22), and social functioning (n = 22). BA patients had lower school functioning scores than controls, with no difference between NLS versus post-LT. Between 2% and 48% of children required additional educational support. Between 60% and 100% of adult patients with BA were employed. Pregnancies were described in 17 studies, with small samples, and some noted complications. Social functioning scores were similar to healthy controls in 8 of 11 comparisons.
Despite BA being the primary indication for liver transplantation in childhood, social outcomes for children and adolescents are predominantly reported in non-controlled, single-centre survey-based studies. School functioning is lower compared to peer groups, with no evidence of a difference for those having a liver transplant. We recommend routine psychosocial assessment of these patients during follow-up, alongside multi-centre collaborations, to maximise the quality of evidence for future patients.