Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects around 3.5 million children worldwide, and in Australia, it’s estimated that it affects at least 4 children per million under 15 years old. Children with chronic hepatitis C infection can suffer from reduced quality of life, social stigmatisation, and inadequate access to specialist care. As with adults, the disease can progress to hepatic fibrosis, chronic liver disease, and hepatocellular cancer.
For most people who live with haemophilia and were exposed to hepatitis C through their treatment products, before proper testing was introduced, the diagnosis experience was more than 30 years ago. If they were diagnosed as a child, it might have been their parents who received the test results and they might not have been certain whether they still had hepatitis C until they were older.
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?
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.
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.Continue reading “Newborn Resistance”
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.