Posttransfusion and community-acquired hepatitis C in childhood

Flavia Bortolotti, Paloma Jara, Carmen Diaz, Pietro Vajro, Loreto Hierro, Raffaella Giacchino, Angela De La Vega, Carlo Crivellaro, Carmen Camarena, Cristiana Barbera, Gabriella Nebbia, Lucia Zancan, Lorena De Moliner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following a longitudinal study of chronic non-A, non-B hepatitis in Italy and Spain, we evaluated the epidemiologic and clinical features of chronic hepatitis C in 77 consecutively observed children (35 male; mean age, 4 years) without underlying systemic diseases. All subjects were positive for antibody to hepatitis C virus in serum by second-generation tests. Forty-six patients had received blood transfusions in the perinatal period; 12 had a mother with antibodies to HCV in serum (five of these mothers were drug users or partners of a drug user); seven had a history of putative percutaneous exposure; and 12 had not been exposed to any risk factors for viral hepatitis. At presentation, only 22% were symptomatic, mean alanine-aminotransferase levels were three times the upper normal value, and liver histology showed active disease in only nine of 28 cases (32%). During a mean observation period of 6 years, only 11 of 57 patients (19%) complained of symptoms and 11 of 40 cases (27%) had histologic features of active hepatitis. Two patients had severe hepatitis with associated cirrhosis. However, only six of 57 cases (10%) achieved sustained biochemical remission. The clinical features and the outcome were similar in both the posttransfusion and the community-acquired cases. These results indicate that transfusions in the perinatal period are the single most important cause of hepatitis C in otherwise healthy children. Community-acquired cases represent an heterogeneous epidemiologic group in which maternal transmission, whether perinatal or postnatal, could be relevant. Histologically severe hepatitis and cirrhosis seem to be an infrequent feature of chronic hepatitis C virus infection in childhood and adolescence, in spite of persistent liver damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-283
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Antibodies to hepatitis C virus
  • Cirrhosis
  • Community-acquired hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Posttransfusion hepatitis C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Histology


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