Hepatitis and Children: Part 2 – Hepatitis B and C

In our last post we looked at the mysterious new form of hepatitis affecting young children. But what about hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which are already well known problems for thousands of Australians? How do they affect children?

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Hepatitis and Children: Part 1 – The Mystery

An unusual, and probably new, form of hepatitis has appeared in a number of countries this year, first being noticed in the UK, then spreading to Spain and the Netherlands and on to at least 35 other states and territories including the USA. The first group of active cases were found in March with the latest case numbers estimated at over 1000 and 22 deaths. Unusually, and alarmingly, all of the known cases have been in children. A number have required transfer to specialist children’s liver units, with a number needing lifesaving liver transplants.

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Newborn Resistance

Exploring the low rate of HCV infection in newborns

Unlike other blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B, the risk of a baby being infected with hepatitis C during the mother’s pregnancy or during birth is very low. Only about 5% of babies born to mothers who have hepatitis C are themselves infected by the disease.

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Treating Children with HBV – Predictors of Success

A unique longitudinal real life study on entecavir-treated children and adolescents have found that HBV DNA results at six and twelve months after starting treatment, are predictors of viral suppression. Another predictor of success is an age of infection at 10 years or older.

The study results, based on data collected from 44 patients, support entecavir as a safe and effective treatment for adolescents with chronic hepatitis B.

Believed to be the first long-term study on hepatitis B treatment for children and adolescents, the research also found that duration of entecavir therapy was an important factor in achieving successful outcomes. On average, the odds of undetectable hepatitis B DNA increases by about five per cent with each additional month of therapy.

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