Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects 0.3% of children in the United States, and the general impression is that it has a benign course in childhood. We analyzed a pediatric population with chronic HCV in a quaternary referral center.Material and Methods:
This is a retrospective clinical review comprising all patients with chronic HCV referred to the Pediatric Liver/Liver Transplant Program between January 1999 and December 2004.Results:
Ninety-one patients (52% female; mean age, 9 years) were assessed. Eight-three percent of the patients were genotype 1. Twenty-one patients received/are receiving interferon and ribavirin for chronic HCV (treatment indications-advanced disease, 9; clinical trial, 6; genotype 2, 2; social, 2; prerenal transplant, 1). Eight (53%) of 15 patients, who have completed therapy and follow-up, achieved sustained viral response. Seven of 91 patients had cirrhosis at presentation (mean age, 11.7 years). Four underwent liver transplantation, all experienced HCV recurrence, 2 died, 1 was retransplanted, and 1 has compensated cirrhosis.Conclusion:
Although, in general, HCV in children has a slow progression, there are cases with an accelerated course and early development of cirrhosis requiring liver transplant. Hepatitis C virus recurs universally after transplant, and its prognosis is usually poor; therefore, the most promising long-term approach is to clear this infection before transplantation.