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Autoimmune hepatitis is a liver condition that occurs when the immune system of the body attacks the liver. This causes liver enzymes to rise as liver cells are injured and burst. This leads to decreased liver function, which may cause jaundice.
Autoimmune hepatitis is not caused by a virus or bacteria and is not a contagious condition. No one knows what triggers the immune system to react against the liver. The condition is often associated with other autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune hepatitis is classified into two types. Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis is the most common and typically starts in adolescence or young adulthood. Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis is less common and affects children aged 2 to 14.
Children with autoimmune hepatitis may not feel or show any symptoms.
Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include:
If your child experiences any of the symptoms of hepatitis, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Riley at IU Health can perform the following exams and tests to make a diagnosis:
Other tests used to make a hepatitis diagnosis include:
Autoimmune hepatitis is treated with immune system suppression. Immunosuppressive therapy uses medicines to prevent the body from injuring the liver.
Types of immunosuppressive medicines include:
Many patients require lifelong immunosuppressive therapy in order to keep inflammation and injury to the liver under control. Sometimes patients can be weaned from the medicines, but these patients should be followed closely to make sure their hepatitis does not relapse.
Visit the websites below to find support groups and services and learn more about autoimmune hepatitis.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The Riley at IU Health Liver Support Group meets one or two times a year for a family-oriented education program and socializing. Topics include testing for liver disease, complications of liver disease, impact of chronic disease on the family, liver transplant, nutrition for liver disease and medicine for liver disease. Please call 317.944.3774 for meeting dates and times.
This website includes information and resources for families of children with autoimmune hepatitis.
This National Institutes of Health website offers information and resources about autoimmune hepatitis, including research and clinical trials.
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