Treatment of hepatitis B virus infection in children and adolescents

World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Sep 28;27(36):6053-6063. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i36.6053.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Most children acquire the infection perinatally or during early childhood and develop a chronic hepatitis characterized by a high viral replication and a low-inflammation phase of infection, with normal or only slightly raised aminotransferases. Although a conservative approach in children is usually recommended, different therapies exist and different therapeutic approaches are possible. The main goals of antiviral treatment for children with chronic HBV infection are to suppress viral replication and to warn the disease progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, although these complications are rare in children. Both United States Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have approved interferon alfa-2b for children aged 1 year and older, pegylated interferon alfa-2a and lamivudine for children aged 3 years and older, entecavir for use in children aged 2 years and older, and adefovir for use in those 12 years of age and older. Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate is approved by EMA for children aged 2 years and older and by US-FDA for treatment in children aged 12 years and older. Finally, EMA has approved the use of tenofovir alafenamide for treatment of children aged 12 years and older or for children weighing more than 35 kg independent of age. This narrative review will provide the framework for summarizing indications to antiviral therapy in the management of chronic HBV infection in children and adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescents; Antiviral therapy; Children; Entecavir; Hepatitis B; Interferon; Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B* / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antiviral Agents