Hepatitis B is a virus that lives in liver cells and in the cells of the immune system. When the hepatitis B virus (HBV) infects the liver, immune system cells are attracted to the liver to help fight the infection. These disease-fighting cells can cause liver inflammation. The hepatitis B virus is passed through blood and bodily fluids and can be passed to an infant during childbirth if the mother has the virus. Most newborns and about 50 percent of children infected with hepatitis B develop chronic hepatitis.
Usually, children with hepatitis B show and feel no symptoms.
The symptoms of hepatitis B include:
If your child experiences any of the symptoms of hepatitis B, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Riley at IU Health can perform the following exams and tests to make a diagnosis:
Other tests used to evaluate children with hepatitis include:
Most children with hepatitis B have normal liver enzymes and are not initially candidates for treatment. Treatment of hepatitis B in children includes:
Children with chronic hepatitis B and elevated liver enzymes can be treated, but they will need to have their liver monitored regularly to check for liver damage. The following medicines for children with chronic hepatitis B and elevated liver enzymes are being studied:
Patients with hepatitis B should also avoid sharing razors or other sharp objects that could carry blood.
Visit the websites below to find support groups and services and learn more about hepatitis B.
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 hepatitis B.
This website from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition provides information for patients and families living with hepatitis B.
This National Institutes of Health website offers information and resources about hepatitis B, including research and clinical trials.
Our pediatric gastroenterologists participate in research on the treatment of hepatitis B. Tell your child's doctor if you would like to know more about our clinical research studies.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.