In recent months, parents worldwide have been worried about the sudden and unusually high number of cases of acute hepatitis in children that has been happening globally. Hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver, is generally extremely rare in children, yet now there have been hundreds of cases reported in different countries across the world.
According to an article published by Yale Medicine in May 2022, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that most children with the cases of unexplained acute hepatitis in the US have fully recovered, and approximately 14% required a liver transplant.
In Bali and Indonesia in general, these cases of pediatric hepatitis for unknown reasons are often referred to as ‘mysterious hepatitis’. Parents have been holding their breath as researchers are trying to find the definitive cause of hepatitis in children.
So far, scientists have found that adenoviruses could be the culprit. Adenoviruses are a group of common viruses that can cause various symptoms, from cold-like symptoms to those of intestinal infections (stomach bugs).
Although the high number of hepatitis cases in children does indeed cause a great deal of worry, medical experts have urged parents not to panic and instead educate themselves with all they need to know about this matter. In this article, we aim to help parents understand more about the issue at hand.
What is hepatitis?
As briefly explained above, hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by infections, toxins, drugs, or certain medical conditions. The most common causes of hepatitis in adults are the five main strains of the hepatitis viruses, which are the types A, B, C, D, and E.
This inflammation of the liver, of course, may cause affect the function of the liver. In some cases, it can even be fatal, as the liver is an essential organ that performs numerous vital functions. These functions include removing waste products and foreign substances from the bloodstream, processing nutrients, fighting infections, and regulating blood sugar levels.
What hepatitis symptoms should every parent recognize?
People with hepatitis don’t always display symptoms. However, experts have shared that in the recent cases of hepatitis in children, common symptoms have included vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, jaundice or the yellowing of the skin or eyes, and dark urine and light-colored stool.
Furthermore, experts have shared that gastrointestinal symptoms in children on their own do not indicate hepatitis. However, jaundice is considered more of an indicator to suspect a liver problem. Additionally, in the case of persistent vomiting and diarrhea, children should be taken to a doctor immediately to rule out liver problems.
You may be interested to read Mysterious Hepatitis: Don’t Miss These 3 Symptoms!
What do experts know about the sudden cases of hepatitis in children so far?
Often referred to as mysterious hepatitis in children in Bali and across Indonesia in general, here is what experts have found and shared about the cases of hepatitis in children so far.
- According to the CDC, the pediatric cases of severe hepatitis in children began in October 2021 at a hospital in Alabama, the United States. All patients suffered from a significant liver illness, but all tested negative for hepatitis A, B, and C. Yet, they tested positive for adenovirus.
- All patients (1-6 years old) were previously healthy and had no common exposures, and none of the pediatric patients in Alabama had any symptoms of Covid-19 before or during hospitalization for hepatitis.
- At this point, the number of reported cases of pediatric hepatitis in different countries has increased significantly. The CDC reports have shown that only 50% of pediatric hepatitis patients in the US had adenovirus. Adenoviruses were also found in over one-third of the reported cases of unexplained hepatitis in children globally. Therefore, the CDC has recommended doctors treating children with sudden hepatitis to consider ordering tests for adenovirus.
- Experts around the world are currently looking into the contributing factors and possible causes of the cases of hepatitis in children.
What can parents do to protect their children from hepatitis?
With what we know so far, first of all, parents need to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis.
Secondly, similar to keeping your children safe from the Covid-19 infection during the pandemic, proper hand hygiene plays an important role in protecting your children from hepatitis.
And at last, the CDC recommends that you make sure that your children are up to date with all vaccinations, avoid contact with people who are sick, cover their coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
If you recognize any symptoms of hepatitis in your child, or if your child has suffered from persistent or unexplained vomiting and diarrhea, please make sure that you see a doctor immediately. Our English-speaking team of excellent doctors at Prime Plus Medical Canggu is always ready to assist you 24/7.