5 Types Of Hepatitis In Children And Their Prevention
Do you know that 95% of people miss the first signs of Hepatitis infection and will be aware only after the infection starts to root? Around eighty percentage of the children who are infected by the Hepatitis virus before they turn one year old and 30% – 40% kids who get it before they turn six years will be subject to the deep impact of this infection. However, the good news is that few types of hepatitis can be cured completely and most of them can be prevented. Continue reading to know about different kinds of hepatitis in children and how you can shield the little one from being infected.
What Is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory state of the liver. Even though there are several reasons which can bring out liver damage and cause hepatitis, a viral infection is the most common cause of hepatitis. With respect to the adults, children have a weaker immune system, making them vulnerable to the virus.
Types Hepatitis In Children
There are five types of hepatitis virus: A, B, C, D and E. While hepatitis D and E are not that common, grownups and children are often infected with hepatitis A, B or C. Hepatitis A is the less severe version of the disease. Hepatitis C and D falls under the more severe form of hepatitis. Children can get affected, irrespective of their age. As indicated by latest research, there is a possible sixth type of virus referred as Hepatitis G, which, however, to confirm requires more systematic study.
Hepatitis A is also known as infectious hepatitis. It is the most widely recognized hepatitis viruses in children. The disease is generally short termed and mild, in children.
Children infected with hepatitis A usually develop mild symptoms or will never develop any symptoms at all. Some of the common symptoms include:
The virus is present in an infected person’s stool. When the child have food or water that is contaminated with the stool he or she could get hepatitis
Hepatitis A is diagnosed by blood test
There are no medications to treat hepatitis A. It is a transient disease that will resolve on its own over several weeks or months
Also, unlike other types, the child will not be a carrier of this virus
Make sure every member in the house washes their hands frequently before touching or giving the child any food
Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly
Never give child semi-cooked food
Make sure child is drinking filtered and boiled water
Avoid any kind of food from the street vendors
Even if you come to know that your child is exposed to the virus, there are a couple of steps, which should be taken as soon as possible, which will help to prevent the child from being infected.
Vaccine is available for hepatitis A. Children above one year should get vaccinated for hepatitis A
A Child with weak immune system will be given immunoglobulin(IG)
Hepatitis B is also known as serum hepatitis. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes it. Hepatitis B can give rise to chronic liver issues like liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and possibly liver failure, thereby having a long-term impact on the child’s health
Children below 5 years, rarely develop symptoms of hepatitis B. Children above 5 years may develop symptoms 3 to 4 months after getting exposed to the virus. The main symptoms are:
Signs of jaundice like yellowing of skin, white part of the eye and dark urine
Muscle and joint pain
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
How does it spread?
HBV is found in the infected person’s blood or body fluids like tears, saliva and semen. Unlike hepatitis A, HBV is absent in the stool of an infected person. Likewise, the child infected with hepatitis B can be a carrier. A child get infected by HBV from the blood or body fluids of the infected person.
The child can be infected when a carrier of this disease scratches him that breaks his skin
Sharing personal items, such as a toothbrush, with someone who has the virus
The virus passes from the mother to the newborn baby if the mother carries HBV at the time of delivery
If the child being stuck with the same needle or syringe, after used on an HBV-infected person, can be infected by the virus
Diagnosis include blood tests known as hepatitis virus panel. It is a chain of blood tests used to discover present or past infection with hepatitis B
There is no treatment for hepatitis B, which makes this infection more precarious. Your child’s immune system can fight off a less severe infection. However, as the severity increases, so will be ill effects. Getting plenty of rest, increasing the intake of fluid, sticking onto a healthy diet, etc. are some measures that will help to relieve the symptoms. Severe cases of acute hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral drugs to bring down the chances of the liver being seriously damaged
The good news is that even though very dangerous, hepatitis B can be prevented by taking few careful steps.
All pregnant women should be screened for HBV. If an acute or chronic hepatitis B is diagnosed, there are some measures taken to keep the infection from being transmitted to a child during delivery:
Newborns ought to get their first hepatitis B vaccine and one shot of immunoglobulins (IG) within first 12 hours
The baby must finish all hepatitis B vaccines as directed during the first six months
Sometimes, pregnant women may be given medications to bring down the level of HBV in their blood
Some of the other preventive measures include:
Parents should take measures to keep their children away from getting in direct contact with blood and body fluids of the infected person
Children should not share toothbrushes or any other personal items that have chances to get infected
Always make sure that fresh needles and syringes are used when your child gets any shot
Hepatitis C infection (HCV) is a chronic viral infection affecting the liver caused by hepatitis C virus. There are two kinds of hepatitis C infections. Acute and chronic. Acute type of hepatitis C is comparatively harmless and resolve within 6 months. Children who are not able to clear an HCV infection in the acute stage will be subjected to a chronic form of hepatitis C, a serious illness that can bring about long-term health issues and requires long-term care. Though hepatitis C is less common in children (affecting about 0.15% of 6-11- year-olds, and 0.4% of 12-19-year-old), it can potentially bring about liver cirrhosis even for a 8 year old child.
The symptoms may not appear during the initial stages of the disease. After the incubation period of two to six weeks, the virus can cause ever-greater damage to the liver, and the child may develop the following signs:
How does it spread?
Hepatitis C does not spread through air, touch or breast milk. In extremely rare cases, the infection can pass from the mother to the newborn. As the hepatitis C virus is blood-borne, the child most probably will get it:
If he or she is injected with a needle that is used on an infected person
When medical equipment is reused without being sterilized
If the child underwent a blood transfusion of infected blood
Once the child develops symptoms, the doctor will suggest a serological test to check for anti-HCV antibodies and a nucleic test to check whether the infection is chronic
Acute and chronic hepatitis C are treated very differently
If the child has acute hepatitis C, the doctors will suggest ample rest, a good diet, and consuming lot of fluids
If the infection has endured more than 6 months, the child has chronic hepatitis C, the doctor will recommend a treatment plan that incorporates administering anti-viral medication that eliminates the HCV from the body of the child. If the child experiences severe liver damage, a liver transplant may be necessary
Make sure fresh needles and syringes are used while your child gets any shot
Make sure safe blood is used if your child needs a blood transfusion anytime
Hepatitis D (also called delta)or HDV is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is a RNA virus. It does not act alone. It attacks the body combined with the HBV. The virus becomes stronger in the presence of the HBV. Children who are subjected to chronic hepatitis B infection are at a risk of contracting HDV.
Symptoms are similar to Hepatitis B
How does it spread
This is also similar to Hepatitis B. It spreads through contacts and body fluids
It is diagnosed through blood test
There is no recognized remedy for acute or chronic HDV infection, but the good news is that compared to hepatitis A, B, and C, Hepatitis D is rare in children. If exposed, the doctor may prescribe treatment using a drug known as interferon, as anti-viral medicines aren’t much effective against this virus
Getting the child vaccinated against hepatitis B is the only way to prevent the hepatitis D infection
Hepatitis E is a waterborne infection. Hepatitis E is mainly found in regions with poor sanitation and is typically brought on by ingesting fecal matter
How does it spread?
The hepatitis E virus is commonly found in regions that have poor sanitation or poor hygiene conditions
The virus is spread by coming in contact with contaminated food and water
Undercooked contaminated meat, especially pork can bring about hepatitis E infection
It is diagnosed through a blood test
Similar to hepatitis C and D, hepatitis E does not have a particular treatment. Usually, it will resolve on its own. It usually will not develop into a severe stage. However, if it does then the child will be treated with anti-viral drugs to eliminate the virus from the system
A hepatitis E vaccine has been invented yet is presently accessible just in China
To prevent the infection,
Ensure the kids drinks only clean water and food that is prepared at home
Always wash and clean all the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them
Never let the child eat food from street vendors, especially in the regions where the infection is widely spread
Also, avoid undercooked meat and shellfish
Ensure that your child strictly practices personal hygiene
So you see, Hepatitis can be a dangerous infection when left undetected and untreated especially among children. It can severely damage the liver which in turn can affect the health and quality of life of your child. So do take all the precautions necessary to keep your child away from this infection and do not skip getting your child vaccinated with the Hepatitis vaccination as per his immunization schedule.
We hope this article will provided you with an in-depth information about Hepatitis in children. Please feel free to share your experiences or inputs in the comments section below.