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Pediatric Hepatitis C Is Mild But Persistent

A DGReview of :"Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Childhood: Clinical Patterns and Evolution in 224 White Children"

Clinical Infectious Diseases 03/05/2003 By Anne MacLennan

Few children with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection -- especially those who are infected perinatally -- achieve viraemia clearance in the medium-term, suggests a multicentre European study.

Dr. Paloma Jara from the Hospital Infantil La Paz, in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues retrospectively examined the characteristics and evolution of HCV infection among HCV RNA seropositive children seen at seven centres in Spain, Italy and Belgium between 1980 and 1998.

The researchers followed 200 white children who were positive for a mean of 6.2 years. At baseline, 87% of all children enrolled were asymptomatic and 48% had alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels that were at least 2 times the upper limit of normal.

Results showed that 6% of children achieved sustained viremia clearance and normalisation of the ALT level at the end of follow-up. In 92 revised liver biopsy specimen analyses, the mean fibrosis score was 1.5 for children younger than 15 and 2.3 for those who were 15 or older (p<0.01).

The authors conclude that, although paediatric HCV infection is usually mild, few patients, and especially those infected perinatally, clear viremia in the medium-term.

Conversely, the higher rates of fibrosis observed in older patients suggest the possibility of an insidious progression of HCV-associated liver disease, they add.

Clinical Infectious Diseases 2003;36:275-280. "Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Childhood: Clinical Patterns and Evolution in 224 White Children"

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