What are the symptoms of hepatitis in children?

April 27, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

In April 2022, health experts have issued warnings about a cluster of rare hepatitis cases in otherwise healthy children that may be connected to a strain of adenovirus.

Experts are still working to determine the cause of the hepatitis but noted the cases may be associated with an infection of adenovirus type 41.

Adenoviruses are common and can cause symptoms like a cold or flu. Normally, an infection with adenovirus type 41 can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and respiratory symptoms. It can also cause pink eye and bladder infections. But it’s not usually a cause of hepatitis in healthy children.

Hepatitis is liver inflammation that can be caused by viruses and toxins, as well as some medications and alcohol use.

The recent cases of rare acute hepatitis in children appears to be caused by something other than hepatitis viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that cases of pediatric hepatitis were discovered in healthy children who tested negative for hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E in the United Kingdom—including some who had adenovirus infection.

Parents should be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis, which can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes)

Parents should schedule an appointment with their pediatrician if their child is vomiting, has abdominal pain, is dehydrated or jaundiced. Children should be vaccinated against hepatitis viruses A and B.

The best way to protect kids and adults against all viruses, including adenovirus, are likely familiar:

  • Regular, thorough handwashing
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people

This blog was reviewed by Victoria Uribe, M.D., a pediatrician with Elmhurst Clinic.

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