Hepatitis In Children

September 14, 2023

Hepatitis In Children

Thank you for all the recent enquiries relating to reports of rising cases of hepatitis in children. In response we have compiled a quick guide on hepatitis in children for you. Statistics shared by the UK Health Security Agency show that currently, almost 200 children have been diagnosed with acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology since the start of 2022. But rest assured, scientists and public health doctors are actively looking into what might be causing this.

Although medical professionals are unsure of the specific cause it is thought that it could be linked to the adenovirus infection. This is a common cold virus that can cause fever, cold symptoms, rashes, conjunctivitis and gastroenteritis but in most cases resolves by itself without any specific treatment and does not lead to any long-term effects or complications.

It is always good for parents to be familiar with signs and symptoms that suggest a more serious illness and to help you identify a complication such as hepatitis in your child to get the right medical help as soon as possible.

A child receiving a jab in their arm whilst their mother comforts them

What Is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the liver and can have many different causes such as viral infections. The liver is a vital organ that filters blood coming from the digestive tract and produces vital enzymes.

Hepatitis affects the liver’s ability to function properly and this can lead to serious health concerns in all ages. Although some cases of hepatitis will not lead to serious problems, it is always important to have your child checked if you are concerned about their health.

Types Of Hepatitis

There are several causes of hepatitis, that are described below:

  • Hepatitis A: A short-term illness that requires no treatment. Symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea can cause discomfort and yellowing of the eyes and skin is a common sign. Therefore, hydration is vital to help your child get better.
  • Hepatitis B: Currently no specific treatment, but a very effective vaccine is available. However, antiviral medications may be prescribed, and regular medical evaluations will be required to monitor if the treatment works.
  • Hepatitis C: Can be treated with antiviral drug medications and therapies. Common symptoms include a fever, rash, and joint pain. 
  • Hepatitis D: This unique infection usually occurs in people who have the hepatitis B virus. It is more common in adults than in young children.
  • Hepatitis E: This type of hepatitis is an acute infection. Therefore, no specific treatment is required. Typically, this will go away on its own. Close monitoring will be necessary.
  • Autoimmune: Occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the liver. It is most likely experienced by those who suffer from autoimmune conditions.
  • Neonatal: The liver is affected during early infancy. Typical symptoms are yellowing of the skin and eyes, also known as jaundice.

Hepatitis Symptoms

We have compiled common symptoms and signs to help parents know what to look out for. If you notice any of these symptoms and are concerned, you must consult with a medical professional.

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness
  • Dark urine
  • Light coloured stools
  • Jaundice (yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes)
  • Vomiting

Hepatitis Causes

There is no one root cause of hepatitis. The condition usually occurs when your child is exposed to a virus linked to hepatitis. These include all hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E), chickenpox, rubella, adenovirus, parvovirus and many more. Autoimmune liver disease is often a common cause. This is because your child’s immune system creates antibodies that start to attack the liver. This attack causes inflammation which eventually leads to hepatitis.

Hepatitis Diagnosis

To help your doctor understand what has caused hepatitis in your child, they will need to run a series of tests to help them develop a confident diagnosis. Blood tests are always needed and scans of the abdomen and liver can often help detect the cause of the problem. A physical examination is also necessary.

An early diagnosis is always really important so always seek medical help early if you are concerned.

Hepatitis Treatment

Treatment for hepatitis will depend on the type of hepatitis that your child has. For example, if they suffer from hepatitis A, your child will not require treatment as this is a short-term illness. Your doctor will decide the best course of action, depending on the type of hepatitis that your child has and will involve a specialist liver team for advice on investigation and treatment.

How To Prevent Hepatitis

Hepatitis vaccines are available and are highly effective at preventing specific types of hepatitis. Vaccines for hepatitis A and B are currently available, with Hepatitis B part of the current UK vaccine schedule and Hepatitis A is included in many other international vaccine schedules and available privately in the UK.

Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Therefore, if you are travelling to an area where hepatitis A is possible, you and your child should avoid drinking local water and ice and vaccination is recommended. Small changes like these can help prevent the spread. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne transmission. Pregnant mothers are all checked for this, if positive, newborns will receive additional treatment and vaccinations.

Hepatitis Vaccine Schedule

Childhealthy offers hepatitis A and B vaccines in accordance with the UK vaccination schedule. Hepatitis A vaccine is not available for all children via the UK schedule. It is only available to children over 12 months, and two doses must be given two months apart.

Hepatitis B is now included in the UK vaccine schedule with doses given at 2, 3 and 4 months of age. Hepatitis B can also be given in combination with Hepatitis A and is available for children over 12 months old if they have not already received the vaccination during their first year.

Get In Touch

If you would like to book a consultation or a vaccine appointment for your child, don’t hesitate to get in contact with Childhealthy today via our website. We aim to respond to your query as soon as possible. For more information about vaccinations, please read our article on why vaccines are important for children.




Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child please contact your doctor for advice.


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