|Hepatitis is usually caused by viruses that cause inflammation in the liver. There are many viruses that can cause hepatitis, but the most common are Hepatitis A, B, and C.
Hepatitis A is usually spread in contaminated water and food and it is the most common form of hepatitis in children. Your child may develop symptoms of hepatitis about two to six weeks after being exposed. These symptoms include fatigue, vomiting and he may become jaundiced. There is no treatment for Hepatitis A, and most children recover without problems. There is a vaccine available for this virus that is given to people at risk for getting Hepatitis A. It may also be given to people soon after they are exposed to prevent them from becoming ill (they should also receive immune globulin).
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of someone who is infected with the virus. It is much more serious than Hepatitis A and it can lead to lifelong infection and liver failure. There is also a vaccine available for Hepatitis B and it is a part of the regular vaccination schedule. Older children who were not vaccinated as a child should receive the vaccine at their next checkup.
Hepatitis C is also spread through contact with blood and body fluids, but unfortunately no vaccine or good treatment is available yet for this serious illness. It can also lead to lifelong infection and liver failure. Children should be screened for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) if they had a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before 1992, injected illegal drugs, received clotting factor concentrates before 1987, received IVIG (Gammagard or Polygram) between April 1, 1993 and Feb. 23, 1994 (this is a common treatment for Kawasaki disease), have been on long term hemodialysis, or if they were born to a mother with hepatitis C infection.
There are blood tests available to see if your child has any of these types of hepatitis infections.