Hepatitis C in the pediatric population: transmission, natural history, treatment and liver transplantation

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Aug 28;20(32):11281-6. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i32.11281.


The number of children affected by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States is estimated to be between 23000 to 46000. The projected medical cost for children with HCV in the United States is $199-366 million over the next decade. The implementation of routine screening of blood supply has virtually eliminated transmission via transfusion and vertical transmission is now the most common mode of infection in children. Infections acquired during infancy are more likely to spontaneously resolve and fibrosis of the liver tends to increase with age suggesting slow progressive histologic injury. Anti-viral treatment may be warranted in children with persistently elevated liver enzymes or with significant fibrosis on liver biopsy. Current standard of care includes weekly pegylated interferon and ribavirin twice daily. Predictors of high sustained viral response include genotype 2 and 3 and low viral load in children with genotype 1 (< 600000 IU/mL). Phase 1 and 2 trials with triple therapy (interferon, ribavirin, and a protease inhibitor) are ongoing. Triple therapy is associated with a significantly higher rate of sustained virologic response (> 90%). Only 34 pediatric patients were transplanted with hepatitis C between January 2008 and April 2013. The majority of pediatric patients were born prior to universal screening of blood products and, as of June 2013, there are only two pediatric patients awaiting liver transplantation for end-stage liver disease secondary to hepatitis C. Pediatric survival rates post-transplant are excellent but graft survivals are noticeably reduced compared to adults (73.73% for pediatric patients at one year compared to 87.69% in adult patients). New safe and effective antiviral therapies for recurrent HCV should help increase graft survival.

Keywords: Fibrosis; Hepatitis C; Infection; Liver disease; Liver transplantation; Pediatric.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • End Stage Liver Disease / mortality
  • End Stage Liver Disease / surgery*
  • End Stage Liver Disease / virology
  • Genotype
  • Graft Survival
  • Hepacivirus / drug effects*
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / pathogenicity
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C / mortality
  • Hepatitis C / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Liver Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Liver Transplantation* / mortality
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists


  • Antiviral Agents