Skip to content
This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff and is brought to you by Grifols.

If you have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, also called alpha-1, you have a greater chance of liver disease.

Most people don't have serious liver problems, though. And if you have a young child with alpha-1, she will most likely go on to enjoy a healthy childhood.

Your best defense is to live a healthy lifestyle and to work with your doctor to take good care of your liver problems, or ease problems if they do happen.

How Alpha-1 Affects Your Liver

Alpha-1 is a rare disease that makes an enzyme in your liver work poorly. Alpha-1 antitrypsin  protein usually travels from your liver through your blood to protect your lungs and other organs. But if the proteins aren't the right shape, they can get stuck in your liver. 

This can cause cirrhosis, severe liver damage and scarring, and liver cancer. And because the proteins aren't traveling to your lungs like they should, it can also cause lung problems.

Liver Symptoms

If you are an adult whose liver is affected by alpha-1, you may have:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes)
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling or pain in your belly

A child born with alpha-1 may have liver symptoms in the first weeks of life. See your child's doctor if your baby has the above symptoms or:

  • Poor growth
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching

Liver symptoms may also appear when a child is older. These can include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Fatigue

Are You at Risk?

You can only get alpha-1 if both your parents carry a faulty gene and pass it to you.  If the gene is passed to you from only one parent, you won't get the disease, but you will be a carrier and can pass the gene to your children.

Most people with alpha-1 don't have liver problems. Your lifetime chance of getting them is 30% to 40%. Liver disease is most likely after age 50.

Babies and AAT Liver Problems

About 1 in 20 babies with two broken genes will get liver disease during their first year.

But most children with this disorder grow up without major liver problems. Many never have symptoms. The disease may improve on its own by the teen years.

In rare cases, your child may need a liver transplant in the first few years of life.

is the cause of your copd genetic

Is the Cause of Your COPD Genetic?

Knowing if you have alpha-1 is the first step to getting help from your doctor. An alpha-1 blood test is the only way for you and your doctor to know whether you have alpha-1. And if you do, your doctor can discuss potential treatment options and testing for other family members.

close

From Our Sponsor

Content under this heading is from or created on behalf of the named sponsor. This content is not subject to the WebMD Editorial Policy and is not reviewed by the WebMD Editorial department for accuracy, objectivity or balance.

Important Safety Information

PROLASTIN®-C (alpha1-proteinase inhibitor [human]) is indicated for chronic augmentation and maintenance therapy in adults with clinically evident emphysema due to severe deficiency of alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency).

The effect of augmentation therapy with any alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (alpha1-PI), including PROLASTIN-C, on pulmonary exacerbations and on the progression of emphysema in alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency has not been conclusively demonstrated in randomized, controlled clinical trials. Clinical data demonstrating the long-term effects of chronic augmentation or maintenance therapy with PROLASTIN-C are not available.

PROLASTIN-C is not indicated as therapy for lung disease in patients in whom severe alpha1-PI deficiency has not been established. PROLASTIN-C is contraindicated in IgA-deficient patients with antibodies against IgA due to risk of hypersensitivity.

Hypersensitivity reactions may occur. Should evidence of hypersensitivity reaction be observed, promptly stop infusion and begin appropriate therapy.

PROLASTIN-C may contain trace amounts of IgA. Patients with known antibodies to IgA, which can be present in patients with selective or severe IgA deficiency, have a greater risk of developing potentially severe hypersensitivity and anaphylactic reactions. PROLASTIN-C is contraindicated in patients with antibodies against IgA.

The most common drug-related adverse reaction observed at a rate of > 5% in subjects receiving PROLASTIN-C was upper respiratory tract infection. The most serious adverse reaction observed during clinical trials with PROLASTIN-C was an abdominal and extremity rash in 1 subject.

Because PROLASTIN-C is made from human plasma, it may carry a risk of transmitting infectious agents, eg, viruses and, theoretically, the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) agent.

Please see PROLASTIN-C full Prescribing Information for complete prescribing details.