1University at Buffalo-State University of New York, New York, USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
The global prevalence of hepatitis C infection is increasing. Here, hepatitis C infection in children is reviewed with the assumption that the new effective treatment will be available for treating children.
Recently, effective treatment for hepatitis C infection has become available for adults. Understanding of vertical transmission, how frequently it occurs, which maternal and fetal factors can influence risks is critical in creating these new strategies. The natural history of vertically acquired disease, especially the chance of spontaneous clearance as well as the incidents of rapid progression, needs to be considered in deciding when or if to treat a child. The advantages and drawbacks to delayed treatment (pathophysiologic, psychological, societal, financial) should be considered with respect to the individual child and in a broader context.
Although hepatitis C virus infection is not benign, it is usually very slowly progressive and is not easily transmitted through casual contact. With the expectation that effective treatment will soon be available to children, deferring treatment combined with cautious surveillance will optimize hepatitis C virus treatment for children.