What can parents expect for their children infected with HCV? These are the results of one study that tries to answer that question:
Scientists from Great Britain recently studied the clinical course of HCV infection in 185 individuals who acquired their infections in childhood. The median age of the group was 11.9 years.
Fifty-nine acquired HCV perinatally, sometime before or just after birth from the HCV+ birth mothers, and 78 had abnormal liver enzymes with 14 percent showing signs and symptoms of liver disease (hepatocellular carcinoma, varices, ascites, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly and spider naevi). Eighty-four of the 95 liver biopsies taken showed abnormal histologies.
It was found that the duration of the person’s infection and co-infections were associated with signs and symptoms of liver disease.
After adjusting for age, sex, duration of infection and underlying medical conditions, individuals with vertically acquired infections had a 5-fold increase in the odds of developing signs and symptoms of liver disease, compared with those acquiring their infections parenterally.
Of the 20 percent of patients who had received antiviral therapy, 52 percent of those achieved a sustained viral response. The authors concluded that the clinical course of HCV infection in childhood is relatively benign but co-morbidities (diseases), longer duration of infection and vertical route of acquisition were all risk factors for HCV-related disease progression.