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Dubin-Johnson syndrome

  • Definition

    Dubin-Johnson syndrome is a disorder passed down through families (inherited) in which a person has mild jaundice throughout life.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Dubin-Johnson syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder. In order to inherit the condition, a child must get a copy of the defective gene from both parents.

    The syndrome interferes with the body's ability to move a chemical called bilirubin from the liver. Bilirubin is produced when the liver breaks down worn-out red blood cells. It normally moves through the bile produced by the liver and into the bile ducts, past the gallbladder, and into the digestive system.

    When bilirubin is not properly processed, it builds up in the bloodstream and causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow (jaundiced). Severely high levels of bilirubin can damage the brain and other organs.

    People with Dubin-Johnson syndrome have lifelong mild jaundice that may be made worse by:

    • Alcohol
    • Birth control pills
    • Environmental factors that affect the liver
    • Infection
    • Pregnancy