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Hepatitis C is a viral liver condition that damages the liver through inflammation. Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Young children contract the condition from their mother during childbirth. Five percent of infants born to mothers with hepatitis C are chronically infected. Hepatitis C infection is usually chronic. The condition can go undetected for years since most people with the virus do not initially show symptoms, and many people have mild disease.
Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver failure. Children and adolescents at risk for hepatitis C are those who:
Sometimes, children with hepatitis C do not experience obvious symptoms. However, if cirrhosis occurs, symptoms may be present.
Symptoms of cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C include:
If your child experiences symptoms of cirrhosis, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Riley at IU Health can perform the following exams and tests to make a diagnosis:
Treatment options for hepatitis C include:
Patients with hepatitis C should also avoid sharing sharp objects like razors or nail clippers that could carry blood.
In the past, the best treatment for hepatitis C in children was weekly pegylated interferon injections and ribavirin orally. Now, much more effective and easy-to-tolerate medicines are being studied. Ask your child's doctor for more information.
Visit the websites below to find support groups and services and learn more about hepatitis C.
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 is the American Liver Foundation's dedicated online resource for information about hepatitis C.
This website from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition provides information for patients and families living with hepatitis C.
This group provides information about the symptoms, treatments and research related to hepatitis C.
This National Institutes of Health website offers information and resources about hepatitis C, including research and clinical trials.
Our pediatric gastroenterologists participate in research on the treatment of hepatitis C. Speak with 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.