To evaluate the impact of substance abuse on pediatric hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence, we examined geographic and demographic data on inpatient hospitalizations in children with HCV.Study design
We examined hospitalizations in children using the Kids’ Inpatient Database, a part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. We identified cases using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition, codes for HCV infection during 2006, 2009, and 2012. Nonparametric tests for trend were used to calculate trend statistics.Results
From 2006 to 2012 nationally, the number of hospitalizations of children with HCV increased 37% (2.69 to 3.69 per 10 000 admissions; P < .001). The mean age of children hospitalized was 17.6 years (95% CI, 17.4-17.8). HCV cases among those 19-20 years of age represented 68% of the total HCV diagnoses, with a 54% increase over the years sampled (P < .001 for trend). The burden of HCV in children was highest in whites, those in the lowest income quartile, and in the Northeast and Southern regions of the US (all P < .0001). The prevalence of substance use among children with HCV increased from 25% in 2006 to 41% in 2012 (P < .001).Conclusion
The increases of HCV in hospitalized children are largely in teenagers, highly associated with substance abuse, and concentrated in Northeast and Southern states. These results strongly suggest that public health efforts to prevent and treat HCV will also need to include adolescents.