Long-Term Course of Chronic Hepatitis C in Children: From Viral Clearance toEnd-Stage Liver Disease

Calogero Camma', Giuseppe Cabibbo, Giuseppe Indolfi, Cristiana Barbera, Pietro Vajro, Gabriella Verucchi, Anna Maccabruni, Matilde Marcellini, Giuseppe Maggiore, Flavia Bortolotti, Lucia Zancan, Fiorella Balli, Maria Guido, Maria Grazia Marazzi, Raffaella Giacchino, Samuela Bartolacci

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184 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND & AIMS: The natural course of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) in children is not well understood. The aim of this study was to assess the long-term course of CHC in a large sample of otherwise healthy children.METHODS: From 1990 to 2005, 504 consecutive antihepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive children were enrolled at 12 centers of a national observatory and were followed up retrospectively/prospectively.RESULTS: Putative exposure was perinatal in 283 (56.2%) cases, parenteral in 158 (31.3%), and unknown in 63 (12.5%). At baseline, 477 (94.6%) cases were HCV RNA seropositive, 118 (24.7%) of which were treated with standard interferon alpha. Ten years after putative exposure, the outcome in 359 HCV RNA-positive, untreated patients was (1) undetectable viremia in 27 (7.5%) (by Cox regression analysis, spontaneous viral clearance was independently predicted by genotype 3 [hazard ratio 6.44; 95% confidence interval: 2.7-15.5]) and (2) persistent viremia in 332 (92%) cases. Six of these 332 cases (1.8%) progressed to decompensated cirrhosis (mean age, 9.6 years). This latter group included 5 Italian children perinatally infected with genotype 1a (4 of the mothers were drug users). Thirty-three (27.9%) treated patients achieved a sustained virologic response.CONCLUSIONS: Over the course of a decade, few children with chronic HCV infection cleared viremia spontaneously, and those who did were more likely to have genotype 3. Persistent viral replication led to end-stage liver disease in a small subgroup characterized by perinatal exposure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1900-1907
Publication statusPublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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