Hepatitis A - children
Hepatitis A in children is swelling and inflamed tissue of the liver due to the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is the most common type of hepatitis in children.
Viral hepatitis - children; Infectious hepatitis - children
HAV is found in the stool (feces) and blood of an infected child.
A child can catch hepatitis A by:
Children can get hepatitis A at day care center from other children or from child care workers who have the virus and do not practice good hygiene.
Most children age 6 years and younger do not have any symptoms. This means that your child could have the disease, and you may not know it. This can make it easy to spread the disease among young children.
When symptoms occur, they appear about 2 to 6 weeks after infection. The child may have flu-like symptoms, or the symptoms may be mild. Severe or fulminant hepatitis (liver failure) is rare in healthy children. The symptoms are often easy to manage and include:
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam of your child. This is done to check for pain and swelling in the liver.
The provider will perform a blood test to look for:
There is no drug treatment for hepatitis A. Your child's immune system will fight the virus. Managing the symptoms can help your child feel better while recovering:
While rare, symptoms may be severe enough that children with HAV need extra fluids through a vein (IV).
HAV does not remain in a child's body after the infection is gone. As a result, it does not cause a long-term infection in the liver.
Rarely, a new case can cause severe liver failure that develops rapidly.
The possible complications of hepatitis A in children can be:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your child's provider if your child has symptoms of hepatitis A.
Also contact the provider if your child has:
You can protect your child from hepatitis A by having your child vaccinated.
If your child attends day care:
If your child gets hepatitis A, you can take these steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to other children or adults:
Jensen MK, Balistreri WF. Viral hepatitis. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 358.
Pham YH, Leung DH. Hepatitis A virus. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 168.
Robinson CL, Romero JR, Kempe A, Pellegrini C, Szilagyi P. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents aged 18 years or younger - United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(5):156-157. PMID: 29420458 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29420458.
Review Date: 2/19/2018
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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