1 Pediatric Clinic, Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Statistics Unit, Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Department of Medical, Surgical and Experimental Sciences, University of Sassari, Sassari (SS), Italy. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Pediatric Clinic, Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Statistics Unit, Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Department of Medical, Surgical and Experimental Sciences, University of Sassari, Sassari (SS), Italy.
3 Pediatrics - Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry "Scuola Medica Salernitana", University of Salerno, Baronissi (SA), Italy.
Having a hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection places a child at higher risk for subsequent chronic hepatitis B (CHB) or chronic hepatitis C (CHC) infection. The risk of mother-to-child transmission is higher for HBV (20% to 90%) than for HCV (<5%). Perinatal HBV infection generally causes CHB infection while perinatal HCV infection has a certain rate of spontaneous viral clearance (around 20% to 30%). Of the two, only HBV infection can benefit from passive/active perinatal immunoprophylaxis. The risk of CHB in children with HBV horizontal transmission decreases with age, whereas HCV transmission among teenagers commonly results into a long-life infection and CHC infection. Children with CHB or CHC should be carefully assessed for the need for antiviral treatment. When treatment cannot be deferred, pediatric CHB infection has different first-line treatment options: standard interferon (for children aged≥1 year), pegylated interferon (for children aged≥3 years), and the oral nucleotide analogues entecavir (for children aged≥2 years) and tenofovir (for children aged≥12 years). The choice of treatment depends on the child's age, virus genotypes, previous treatment failure and presence of contraindications. Expected responsiveness rate is 25% of hepatitis B e-antigen clearance, with both standard interferon and nucleotide analogues. Direct antiviral agents are first-line treatment for CHC infection in children aged 3 years or older. Hepatitis C virus sustained virus response is as high as 97%. Therefore, if direct antiviral agents can be proven to be safe and well tolerated in very young children, HCV eradication could be planned after the first screening.