Objectives: To describe HSV-1 seroprevalence in children in the United States and to examine factors associated with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection in children.
Study design: Sera samples available from 2989 children age 6 to 13 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 1999-2002 were tested for HSV-1 antibodies using a type-specific immunodot assay. HSV-1 seroprevalence in children age 12 to 13 years was compared with that reported in an earlier survey (NHANES 1988-1994).
Results: Overall, HSV-1 seroprevalence in children age 6 to 13 years was 31.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 28.6% to 33.9%). Seroprevalence increased with age, from 26.3% in 6- to 7-year-olds to 36.1% in 12-to 13-year-olds, and varied by race/ethnicity, birthplace, and poverty level. Among US-born children age 12 to 13 years, the point estimate of HSV-1 seroprevalence was lower in NHANES 1999-2002 than in NHANES 1988-1994 (34.3% vs 38.1%), but the differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: HSV-1 is a common infection in US children, with more than 25% infected by age 7. Race/ethnicity, birthplace, and poverty level are predictors for HSV-1 infection in children.