Hepatitis B and C in Children

If the world was a village of 1,000 people:

  • At least 500 would have been infected with hepatitis A, most during childhood.*
  • 200 would have contracted hepatitis E during their lifetimes.
  • 60 would have chronic hepatitis B, most of whom would have contracted it during childhood.
  • 30 would have hepatitis C.
  • 2 would have hepatitis D.

This disease exacts a heavy toll on the world and its children. It is during childhood that most people contract viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis A and B.

Several factors contribute to this global pandemic. To date, the only vaccines available are for hepatitis A and B.  

In developing countries, drinking water and food contaminated by the feces of those infected with hepatitis E and A cause millions of new infections each year.

Vertical transmission from mother to child and exposure to infected friends and family contribute to the prevalence of hepatitis B. Historically, contaminated blood supplies caused many hepatitis C virus infections.

Unsafe or improperly sterilized injections continue to contribute heavily to the spread of hepatitis B and C viruses.

Despite the universal shadow viral hepatitis casts, there has been surprisingly little written about how these diseases impact children. The reason it has escaped the lens of the medical world is simple. In children, nearly all forms of viral hepatitis are “silent,” with few, if any, tell-tale symptoms.

But as infected children grow into adults, hepatitis B, C and D can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Over 40 percent of all liver transplants in the United States are performed on adults with hepatitis B and C. If these diseases can be prevented and cured during childhood, this devastating liver disease can be avoided. 

Until recently, families who learn their children have hepatitis B or C could find little information about how these diseases impact children and what the latest medical treatments are in the pediatric population.

Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases (PKIDs) created the Pediatric Hepatitis Report to fill that void. As an organization that knows all too well the toll viral hepatitis takes, it was our goal to create a comprehensive overview of all types of viral hepatitis and examine how these diseases affect children and what treatments are available.

* There is no known global average for hepatitis A virus exposure. According to CDC and the World Health Organization, infection rates range from about 30 percent in the United States to 100 percent in many developing countries that make up most of the world’s population. The 50 percent exposure rate cited here is an estimate based on regional infection rates provided by the World Health Organization.


Important disclaimer: The information on pkids.org is for educational purposes only and should not be considered to be medical advice. It is not meant to replace the advice of the physician who cares for your child. All medical advice and information should be considered to be incomplete without a physical exam, which is not possible without a visit to your doctor.

Information is the power
parents have over disease.