The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is relatively low in childhood. Blood transfusion has been the principal route of acquisition in children but vertical transmission is gradually occupying primacy in the developed world. The risk of vertical transmission increases with higher maternal viraemia and human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) co-infection but current international guidelines do not suggest avoidance of vaginal delivery and breastfeeding to minimise the risk of vertical transmission. The diagnosis of perinatal transmission is different from that in older child or adult and detection of HCV-RNA is essential. Although the natural history of HCV infection in children is not well characterised, almost 50-80% will progress to chronic hepatitis among vertically infected and blood transfusion acquired hepatitis C cases. Children have a lower viral load, lower ALT values and milder histological derangement as compared to adults with chronic hepatitis C cases. Experience of treatment of chronic hepatitis C in children is limited and still evolving. Few patients achieve spontaneous remission and progression to a more severe liver disease might occur in adult life. Here, the natural history, diagnosis and management of HCV infection in children are discussed with special emphasis on features which are different from adults.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of the Indian Medical Association|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2002|
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection
- Vertical transmission