The epidemiology, natural history and efficacy of treatment for chronic hepatitis C in children are presented. An increase in the number of vertical infections of this etiology is suggested. In children, especially in those vertically infected, spontaneous elimination of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is observed more often than it is in adults. The most common HCV genotype detected in children is genotype 1, but Italian researchers have described an increase of infection with genotypes 3 and 4 HCV in children in recent years. In the context of recent opinions suggesting a more rapid progression of HCV 3 genotype infection, treatment of these children should begin immediately. The high efficacy (sustained viral response > 50%), safety (few adverse events with less intensity as compared to adults) and good tolerance of therapy with pegylated IFN α-2a and ribavirin have been revealed in children. The differences in the efficacy and tolerability of HCV treatment between children and adults are described. A recommendation for inclusion and monitoring parameters of children's physical and mental development during HCV treatment is presented. Regarding new anti-HCV therapies with very high efficacy, including IFN-free treatment, the introduction of these therapies to children is recommended.
Keywords: HCV infection; children; treatment of chronic hepatitis C.