Hydrolysed formula is a risk factor for vitamin K deficiency in infants with unrecognised cholestasis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVES:: Vitamin K deficiency (VKD) may cause life-threatening haemorrhages, especially in breast-fed infants with unrecognised cholestasis. Interestingly, hypoallergenic formulas appear overrepresented in reported cases of VKD bleeding (VKDB) in formula-fed infants. We therefore assessed whether the risk of VKD in formula-fed infants with cholestasis is associated with hypoallergenic formulas. PATIENTS AND METHODS:: Infants born in the Netherlands between January 1991 and December 2006 with cholestatic jaundice due to biliary atresia (BA) or to α-1-antitrypsin deficiency (A1ATD) were identified in the Netherlands Study Group for Biliary Atresia Registry and the A1ATD registry, respectively. The relative risk (RR) of VKDB in patients with BA or A1ATD was calculated for different formula types. The influence of prior or ongoing breast-feeding on the RR of VKDB was also assessed. RESULTS:: A total of 179 infants with either BA (139) or A1ATD (40) were included. One hundred eighteen infants were formula fed; 8 presented with VKD. Six of these 8 infants (75%) received hypoallergenic formula (whey-based hydrolysate in 4). One infant on whey-based hydrolysed formula presented with VKDB. Risk factor analysis revealed that infants receiving hydrolysed, especially whey-based, formula, had a strongly increased risk of VKD (RR 25.0 [6.4-97.2], P < 0.001)) compared with infants receiving regular formula. Prior or ongoing breast-feeding was not significantly associated with VKD. CONCLUSIONS:: Infants with cholestasis receiving (whey-based) hydrolysed formula are at increased risk of developing VKD, compared with infants receiving regular formula. Because VKD may lead to serious haemorrhages, infants receiving whey-based hydrolysed formulas may need additional vitamin K supplementation.


  • P. M. Van Hasselt
  • W. De Vries
  • E. De Vries
  • K. Kok
  • E. C.M. Cranenburg
  • T. J. De Koning
  • L. J. Schurgers
  • H. J. Verkade
  • R. H.J. Houwen
External organisations
  • Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital
  • Beatrix Children's Hospital
  • Radboud University Medical Center
  • Maastricht University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pediatrics


  • haemorrhagic disease, hydrolysate, liver disease, prophylaxis, surveillance and monitoring, vitamin K deficiency
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-776
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes