It is said that Hepatitis C affects less than 1% of children worldwide. It is a rare infection for children, thank to science and medicine. Hepatitis C is a chronic infection that affects the liver. For children, the main reason for having Hepatitis C is by being born from a mother with Hepatitis C infection. A pregnant women infected with Hepatitis C has a .02% chance of infecting her baby upon birth and even delivery via C-section was not effective in curbing this effect.
Testing kids for Hepatitis C infection
Children suspected with Hepatitis C infection have to go through the same Hepatitis C tests that adults do. The first test is to check their blood for any presence of antibodies that fights Hepatitis C virus. If the antibody test shows positive, it means that the child is infected with Hepatitis C virus. Newborns cannot be tested yet for the said antibodies because the accuracy of the result is not dependable. The recommended age for kids to be tested for Hepatitis C infection is 18 months or 1 and a half year old. Besides, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the use of Hepatitis C treatments only to children that are above three years of age. It means that children below three cannot take any Hepatitis C drugs yet.
When a child has Hepatitis C infection
Vertical transmission of Hepatitis C can be cleared without treatment according to doctors. At least 40% of the time, this is true. For those children who still have Hepatitis C virus in their blood as they reach three, they need to undergo Hepatitis C medications to clear the virus. The normal time it takes to clear the virus is 4 to 5 years so by 7 years old, it is expected that the Hepatitis C infection has been cleared. If it the Hepatitis C infection remains until the age of 18, have your child’s liver checked because it can now lead to scarring of the liver. Advance stage of Hepatitis C infection can lead to cirrhosis once the kid reaches 18 years of age hence it is important that during treatment, always have your kid’s liver checked.
Since Hepatitis C infection moves slowly, children with Hepatitis C infection doesn’t require much liver transplant and it is until they reach the adult age that they will need it – when the infection damages their liver. After 30 years of having Hepatitis C infection, this can lead to chronic liver disease or death.
Taking care of your child with Hepatitis C infection
Hepatitis C infection doesn’t cause physical deformities to children with the said infection but in the long run, it can affect the quality of their life, even their life span. It is important then for parents that as early as possible, have your kids checked and talk to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist or Hepatologist to make sure that your kid’s liver is protected from further damages. If your kid’s infection gets cleared early, then you won’t have to worry about your other kids being infected as well.