A 14 month old child with:

  • Ascites, abnormal fluid build up in abdomen, 
  • Liver cirrhosis, abnormal liver cells by scar tissue,
ascites wikipedia 
  • Copper poisoning
  • newly installed copper water pipes

Liver failure due to copper from water pipes.

Wilson's disease or chronic copper poisoning?

John Walker-Smith, Jeanette Blomfield


The case history is given of a child who presented at 14 months with ascites and was found to have severe micronodular cirrhosis with biochemical evidence of Wilson's disease, but in view of the severity of the pathology and early age of presentation, the possibility of chronic copper poisoning was investigated. It was found that the child's drinking water was obtained from a bore via new copper pipes. The bore water had a pH of 4·4 and after passage through copper pipes had a very high copper level of 675 μg/100 ml. He subsequently died from liver failure and at necropsy very high copper levels were found in his liver. The final diagnosis remains uncertain.


BMJ Journals 

British Medical Journals,

BMJ Journals

Archives of

Diseases in Childhood

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