AT A GLANCE: PR campaign highlights child liver disease plight

So, this is about raising awareness?
Yes, the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF) is to launch a comms campaign in the next couple of months to encourage the early identification of liver problems in babies. Conditions can be genetic or viral, although in many cases they occur for no apparent reason. If untreated, they can be fatal.

Who’s handling PR for this?
Specialist health comms agency Aur­ora. Co-founder Claire Eldridge leads the account, reporting to the foun­da­tion’s chief executive, Catherine Ark­ley. It will target a mixture of medical and consumer audiences until the end of the year. The campaign is called ­Yellow Alert.

Wouldn’t ‘Red Alert’ make more sense?
No, because the yellow bit refers to the skin colour of babies with jaundice, which can be an indicator of liver dis­ease. One of the problems is that jaun­dice is one of the key symptoms but can effectively mask the more serious condition, so that when a baby reco­vers it may be thought there is no fur­ther need for concern.

Has there been a rise in reported cases?
The CLDF has no figures, but says it is responding to calls from parents and doctors for more help in establishing what the danger signs are. It ran a sim­i­lar campaign in 1993 and says that although it saw increases in succ­ess­ful early treatment of juvenile liver dis­ease immediately afterwards, things then ‘slipped’ a bit.

What’s different this time round?
The charity promises this year’s effort will be ‘more refined’. The main diff­erences in terms of promotional mat­erials from a decade ago are a new toolkit containing an algorithm which should be a useful reference for GPs, midwives and health visitors. It will form a guide to what should be looked for and how to go about treatment.

What sort of comms activity can we expect to see?
Both Aurora and the agency are keep­ing quiet, but an awareness week is planned for later in the year.

Are there many liver conditions that babies are prone to?
There are about 100 in all that can affect all ages, with babies prone to a number of these. But treatment has improved too: more than 85 per cent of people who received a liver transplant, for example, are now classed as ‘long term’ survivors.

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