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Understanding Hepatitis in Children

  Written by EAC on 01 Aug 2016   0 Comments   5 Stars (1 Ratings)

Special Needs Adoption Hepatitis B Positive Hepatitis C

Hepatitis is a viral inflammation of the liver. There are five forms of the disease, some treatable and others with only limited treatment options. Because of the way in which some forms of the disease are spread, children in developing nations or children who live in poverty are especially susceptible to it.

Hepatitis can be transmitted a number of ways. Drinking water or eating food contaminated with feces is the most common way Hepatitis A is transmitted. Type B is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact, and so is D.  Similar to A, Hepatitis E is transmitted by tainted food or water.

For children growing up in poverty, exposure to hepatitis is all too prevalent, and the consequences can be devastating. Here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • Hepatitis A tends to strike in localized epidemics

  • Vaccinations are available for Hepatitis A

  • Some 90% of babies infected by Hepatitis B at birth develop chronic infections

  • Up to a quarter of those with Hepatitis B die from chronic liver disease

  • Some 240 million people have a chronic Hepatitis B infection

  • Up to 1/3 of chronic Hepatitis B infections begin in childhood

  • Hepatitis B kills close to 700,000 people a year, largely due to liver cancer and cirrhosis

  • A vaccine first made available in 1982 is 95% effective in preventing infections

  • Hepatitis B is most prevalent in East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.

  • Hepatitis B can survive outside the body and remain communicable for 7 days

  • Up to 50% of children who are infected will develop chronic conditions

These numbers only just begin to scratch the surface. We urge you to visit the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and World Hepatitis Day websites for more information.

From the perspective of those involved in international adoption and/or prospective parents hoping to adopt, knowing about treatment options is vital. Children who have been exposed to Hepatitis need love and care as much as anyone else. There are also special considerations beyond the usual parenting concerns to keep in mind. They include:

  • Treatment differs depending on the type of a Hepatitis a child has

  • Most people who have Hepatitis A and E will recover in just weeks

  • Children can be immunized against Hepatitis A and B

  • A vaccine for Hepatitis E exists, but is only available in China

  • Some types, such as B, require lifelong monitoring if contracted

  • Hepatitis B treatment options for very young children may be limited until they get to be about 12

  • Because Hepatitis is a disease of the liver, care must be taken with alcohol, pain medication, and other things that impact liver function

Hepatitis can be a serious illness, especially when contracted by children, but with days like
World Hepatitis Day that falls on July 28 every year, the end goal is to educate about medication and care so viral Hepatitis can be eliminated as a global threat within our lifetime.


With the sometimes limited medical information available on children available for international adoption, EAC recommends that all prospective families contact an International Adoption (IA) medical professional to receive professional input regarding a particular child’s medical and development condition. For more information, click HERE.

 




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