Objective: To characterise epidemiological, clinical and laboratory features of children in New South Wales with chronic hepatitis B (HBV) or C (HCV) infections. Design and setting: Retrospective record review of epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, liver biopsy and treatment data for children (aged < 18 years) referred to tertiary referral paediatric and refugee clinics in NSW with chronic HBV or HCV during 2000–2007; and comparison with NSW Health notification data for the same period. Main outcome measures: Numbers and characteristics of referred children with HBV and HCV, and notifications to NSW Health. Results: During 2000–2007, 79 children with chronic HBV and 29 with HCV infection were referred to specialist clinics, while 930 children with HBV and 777 with HCV infection were reported to NSW Health. Most of the referred children with HBV were born overseas, while most with HCV were born in Australia to mothers with a history of intravenous drug use. Of the 79 HBV-infected children, 56 were e-antigen positive. Most HCV-infected children (23/29) had alanine aminotransferase levels ≤ 2 times the upper limit of normal, and more than half of those who had genotype determined had type 2 or 3. Fibrosis was evident in liver biopsies performed for both HBV and HCV. Conclusions: Although advanced liver disease was uncommon in children referred with HBV or HCV infection, a large number of infected children in NSW were not referred for specialist medical care, indicating that opportunities to intervene early in the natural history of these infections, particularly HCV, are being missed.
Medical Journal of Australia Vol. 190, Issue 12, p. 670-673