What Hepatitis Symptoms Should Parents Look For
Sometimes, people with hepatitis do not have any symptoms. But with these recent cases in children, symptoms have included vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, dehydration, and jaundicea yellowing of the skin or eyes. They also had abnormally high levels of liver enzymes in their blood, which indicates liver inflammation or damage. Other signs of liver damage include dark urine and light-colored stool.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in children and should not on their own make one suspect hepatitis, but signs of jaundice are more indicative of a liver problem, Dr. Fawaz says.
When a persons skin or eyes turn yellow, medical attention should be sought out, as this is indicative of a liver problem. In addition, any child with persistent vomiting, diarrhea, and concerns for inadequate hydration should also seek medical evaluation, she adds.
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about signs and symptoms and any health problems he or she has. Tell him or her if your child has other infections, such as HIV or hepatitis B.
- Your child will be tested when he or she is at least 18 months if he or she was infected during birth. This is because his or her body will have HCV antibodies from his or her mother.
- Your adolescent may need to be tested if he or she drinks alcohol, uses certain drugs, or is sexually active. The provider may recommend that your adolescent get ongoing hepatitis C tests if his or her risk remains high.
- The following tests help diagnose hepatitis C in children older than 18 months and adolescents:
- Blood tests are used to check for HCV antibodies to fight the infection. The tests can show the type of HCV, and how many viruses are present.
- An ultrasound is used to check for liver problems caused by HCV.
- A liver biopsy is used to test for liver swelling, scarring, and other damage.
Treatments For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be treated with medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside the body. These usually need to be taken for several weeks.
Until recently, most people would have taken 2 main medicines called pegylated interferon and ribavirin .
Tablet-only treatments are now available.
These new hepatitis C medicines have been found to make treatment more effective, are easier to tolerate, and have shorter treatment courses.
They include sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.
Using the latest medications, more than 90% of people with hepatitis C may be cured.
But it’s important to be aware that you will not be immune to the infection and should take steps to reduce your risk of becoming infected again.
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Does Your Child Need To See A Doctor About Hepatitis C
You should take your child to the GP if your child:
- develops yellow skin or eyes this is called jaundice
- has very dark brown urine
- has stomach pain that continues longer than a few days
- comes into contact with a discarded needle.
You should also speak to your GP if you think you might have been exposed to hepatitis C during your pregnancy.
Protect Your Childs Health And Prevent Spread
Ask your childs healthcare provider for a list of medicines the child should not take. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications stress the liver. These should be avoided. Tell any healthcare provider who prescribes medicine for your child that your child has hepatitis.
Be aware that some herbs and supplements can strain the liver. Talk with your childs healthcare provider before giving the child anything you buy over the counter.
Make sure your child eats healthy foods. A diet low in fat, high in fiber, and full of fresh fruits and vegetables can help keep your child healthy.
Teach your child to not drink alcohol. Alcohol can cause severe liver damage in people with hepatitis. If you teach your child to avoid alcohol at a young age, he or she may be more likely to drink less or abstain as an adult.
Have your child vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. These are two other forms of hepatitis that could cause more damage to the liver. Other people in your household should also have hepatitis A and B vaccinations. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Teach your child how to prevent the spread of hepatitis C to others. Take precautions to avoid exposing yourself to your childs hepatitis C.
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Hepatitis C In Children
Hepatitis C infection is a chronic viral infection of the liver that affects upwards of 1-2 percent of adults. Fortunately, in children and adolescents, hepatitis C is less common, but it remains a significant health issue. In this article I will address the most common questions about hepatitis C in children and adolescents.
What is the frequency of HCV in children and adolescents?
HCV occurs in about 0.15% of 6-11 year olds and 0.4% of 12-19 year olds. It is estimated that there are 23,000 to 46,000 children in the US with HCV. The recent opioid epidemic is leading to an increasing frequency in adolescents and young adults.
How do children acquire HCV?
Most children are infected with HCV at birth. This is called vertical transmission of infection . If a mother has HCV, her child has a 1 in 20 chance of becoming infected at birth. A high HCV viral load in the mother has a higher the risk of infection to her newborn infant. Interventions at birth, such as C-section delivery, have not been shown to alter the risk of infection at birth.
Adolescents acquire HCV in ways similar to adults by engaging in behaviors that increase their risk of blood exposure, such as IV drug use, sharing needles and high-risk sexual behaviors.
How do you diagnose HCV in children?
What happens to children who are infected with HCV?
What follow up is needed for a child with HCV?
Children with HCV should receive the hepatitis A and B vaccines. They should receive an annual influenza vaccine.
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact.
Some ways the infection can be spread include:
- sharing unsterilised needles particularly needles used to inject recreational drugs
- sharing razors or toothbrushes
- from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby
- through unprotected sex although this is very rare
In the UK, most hepatitis C infections happen in people who inject drugs or have injected them in the past.
It’s estimated around half of those who inject drugs have been infected with the virus.
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Diagnosis And Treatment For Hepatitis C In Children
In children over 2 years of age, diagnosis involves a two-step procedure: the first step is screening with an antibody test for HCV. Then, if this is positive, doctors use an RNA test for HCV to confirm the diagnosis.
The American Liver Foundation recommends that children with HCV get the vaccine for hepatitis A and B, as well as the yearly flu vaccine. They also advise the below follow-ups:
- monitoring nutrition and growth
- measuring the viral load and determining the particular strain of HCV present
- screening for liver cancer for those with significant liver disease
Another follow-up measure involves testing for the liver enzymes alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase . These levels can sometimes become increased in most children with HCV. Those with high ALT and AST have aggressive liver disease, but others may have an aggressive form of the disease without major elevations of the enzymes.
Once a child reaches 3 years, doctors recommend antiviral treatment, according to a 2020 study. New classes of direct-acting antiviral therapies are highly effective in children, who generally tolerate them well. These medications work by targeting several protein products the HCV makes.
An Inflammation Of The Liver Generally Caused By A Virus Hepatitis Carries A Host Of Complicating Factors Side Effects And Stigma
- Preventing Transmission: With infections on the rise, most adults should be getting screened for hepatitis.
- Liviahs New Liver: A 4-year-old in Ohio is one of hundreds of children who have been given a diagnosis of hepatitis and develop liver issues in recent months. Heres her story.
- Pandemics Effect: A wave of diagnostics ushered in by Covid could help revive flagging efforts to eliminate hepatitis C, one of the most common forms of the disease.
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How Hepatitis C Spreads
Hepatitis C spreads through blood-to-blood contact that is, when people come into contact with the blood of someone who has the virus.
The most common way that children get hepatitis C in Australia is from mothers who pass the virus on to their babies during pregnancy or at birth.
You can also get hepatitis C if you:
- get a tattoo or body-piercing with a dirty needle
- have sex without using condoms.
Theres also a very small risk of hepatitis C infection from accidental contact with a discarded needle.
Hepatitis C is rare in children. Its most common among adults who inject drugs and share contaminated needles.
What Can I Do To Manage My Child’s Hepatitis C
- Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about vaccines. He or she will need hepatitis A and B vaccines if he or she has not received them. He or she should also get the flu vaccine each year.
- Offer a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats and fish. Ask if your child needs to be on a special diet.
- Have your child drink extra liquids. Liquids help the liver function properly. Ask your child’s healthcare provider how much liquid your child needs each day and which liquids are best for him or her.
- Help your child get more rest. Have your child slowly return to his or her normal activities when he or she feels better.
- Talk to your adolescent about not drinking alcohol. Alcohol can increase liver damage. Talk to your healthcare provider if your adolescent drinks alcohol and needs help to stop.
- Talk to your adolescent about not smoking. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage hepatitis C. Smoking can also lead to more liver damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if your adolescent currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before your adolescent uses these products.
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Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
What Cdc Is Doing
CDC is working with state and local health departments to see if there are additional U.S. pediatric patients with hepatitis, and what may be causing these illnesses. At this time, we believe adenovirus could be the cause of some of these reported illnesses, but investigators are still learning more including ruling out other possible causes and identifying other possible contributing factors.
While rare, children may still get hepatitis, and we dont always know the cause. To learn more about the potential causes of hepatitis in this investigation, investigators are working with state and local health departments to examine the medical records of children who had hepatitis in the past.
During this investigation, it may seem like there is a growing number of children with hepatitis, but this might not be the full picture. These may not be new cases of hepatitis, and they may not be linked to this current investigation.
CDC is also examining national data sources to look at trends in hepatitis in children , as well as any trends in adenovirus infection over several years, including before the COVID-19 pandemic.
CDC and state public health officials will continue to work in close collaboration with healthcare providers to identify and detect unusual patterns or clusters of hepatitis in children. As soon as they find clues, they will quickly share guidelines to prevent further disease.
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What Are The Long
A child with chronic HCV infection should visit the healthcare provider regularly. This way, the healthcare provider can watch for liver damage. Tests will be done to monitor the health of your childs liver. Hepatitis C causes damage over many years. A child with hepatitis C may develop cirrhosis as an adult. This can lead to problems, and possibly the need for a liver transplant. This is why treatment should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
When Your Baby Has Hepatitis C
If you’re pregnant and have hepatitis C, you can pass the virus that causes the disease to your baby during childbirth, whether you deliver vaginally or through a C-section.
There are tests available when your child is 3 months old, but many experts don’t recommend them because babies can’t be treated until they’re older.
Signs that your child has hepatitis C are:
- Dark, brownish pee
- Swelling in the legs
Your child may also get an enlarged liver or spleen. Your doctor will be able to check this with a physical exam or by using imaging tests.
Your doctor may suggest your child get blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C. They’re the same tests used in adults, but they’re only done in kids over the age of 2:
Anti-HCV test. It looks for specific protein antibodies in your child’s blood. It’s not foolproof though, because it doesn’t show if the hepatitis C virus is active.
HCV-RNA testor qualitative HCV test. This measures whether active hepatitis C virus is in your child’s bloodstream.
Quantitative HCV test or viral load test. It checks the amount of the virus in the blood. You’ll get results that are measured in international units per liter . Lower numbers mean the disease is easier to get under control.
Viral genotyping. This test shows which kind of hepatitis C, called a “genotype,” is causing your child’s infection.
In rare cases, your baby’s doctor may want to do an ultrasound imaging test to check for the possibility of liver cancer.
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Concerns To Ask Your Doctor
If youre fretted about hepatitis C or are currently infected, you may have lots of questions about how it can affect your baby.
You may find it practical to write questions as they emerge that way, when you speak to your doctor, you can be sure that of your issues are resolved.
Here are some concerns to obtain you started:
- Im preparing to have a baby. Should I get tested for hepatitis C?
- How can I reduce my direct exposure to the liver disease C infection?
- Is there any way to prevent passing hepatitis C on to my baby?
- What steps can we take if my baby does get infected?
- Whats the long-term outlook for a baby born with liver disease C?
How Is Hepatitis C Treated
HCV may go away without treatment when it is passed from a mother to her baby during birth. Your child may not need treatment if his or her body fights the HCV. His or her infection will be chronic if it has not gone away by the time he or she is 2 years old. Children younger than 3 years usually do not receive treatment. Your child’s healthcare provider will talk to you about any treatments your child or adolescent may need. Medicines may be given to keep the virus from spreading. Medicines may also prevent or decrease liver swelling and damage. Rarely, surgery may be needed to replace your child’s liver with a healthy liver.
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Hepatitis C In Kids Up To Age 12
Hepatitis C goes away without treatment 40% of the time before a child’s second birthday. The virus has disappeared in some kids as old as 7.
If your child still has hepatitis C after they turn 2, you may hear your doctor call it a “chronic” infection. For most, the disease causes minor liver problems. About 25% of kids have a higher chance of getting scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis. Most of the time that doesn’t happen until the child becomes an adult.
If your child needs treatment, your doctor may suggest these medicines:
Interferon and ribavirin. Studies show it will end a hepatitis C infection in 50% to 90% of cases. It’s the only treatment approved for children under 12. Your child may have side effects that include fatigue, fever, chills, and depression.
Your doctor will likely recommend that your child get hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines, as well as a regular flu shot. Ask your doctor about medicines to avoid because they can cause liver damage, such as acetaminophen.
Also make sure your child sticks to a healthy diet. See that they eat regular, well-balanced meals, get plenty of fruits and veggies, enjoy whole grains and protein-rich foods, and avoid salt.
How To Identify Hepatitis Symptoms In Children
- Hundreds of cases of hepatitis have been detected in children worldwide.
- Experts are not sure what is causing these rare cases.
- Symptoms of hepatitis can be mild at first, including nausea and fever. Symptoms of severe hepatitis can include jaundice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating severe, unexplained cases of hepatitis in children across the country, which may all be linked to a mysterious outbreak worldwide. At least 228 cases as of May 1 have been reported worldwide.
The cases in the U.S. have led to hospitalization for most children, multiple liver transplants, and five deaths.
Hepatitis is not a common disease in children, and the World Health Organization is reporting that the children affected range between the ages of 1 month and 16 years . This is more worrisome because experts still do not have a clear picture of what is causing this condition.
While more research does still need to be done, experts have weighed in on how best to spot the signs of hepatitis in children.
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