Clinical and laboratory features of viral hepatitis A in children

Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2013 Feb;125(3-4):83-90. doi: 10.1007/s00508-012-0316-9. Epub 2013 Jan 29.


Recent outbreaks of viral hepatitis A in non-endemic European countries and the potential outbreak risk in susceptible populations has led us to evaluate the clinical characteristics of children hospitalised with hepatitis A. Retrospective study included 118 children (68 boys and 50 girls) with the mean age of 8.5 years hospitalised at Hospital Na Bulovce in Prague from June 2008 to June 2009. The clinical course was symptomatic icteric in 57 (48.3 %) children, symptomatic anicteric in 23 (19.5 %), subclinical in 22 (18.6 %) and asymptomatic inapparent in 16 (13.6 %). The relapse of the disease occurred in three patients. There were no cases of fulminant hepatitis. The most frequent symptoms included jaundice (57 cases), abdominal pain/discomfort (38), vomiting (38), dark urine (37), subfebrility (29) and fever (25). Hepatic injury markers were substantially elevated in icteric patients, but moderate elevations were identified in anicteric and subclinical cases as well. Lower white blood cell and lymphocyte counts were independently associated with symptomatic and more severe clinical course. Active immunisation was provided to 22 patients, and as a post-exposure prophylaxis to 19 of them. The clinical course and laboratory parameters in vaccinated children were not significantly different from non-vaccinated children. The clinical course of hepatitis A was largely self-limiting and benign. Asymptomatic infections are frequent, representing risk for disease spread; however, they are associated with elevations of hepatic injury markers. The inclusion of significant proportion of asymptomatic cases that were identified and investigated only because of active epidemiological surveillance in the outbreak focus represents the particular asset of this study.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fever / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis A / blood
  • Hepatitis A / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis A / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vomiting / epidemiology*