Hepatitis: Increase in paediatric cases still under investigation
As the sudden increase in cases of hepatitis in young children worldwide still remains unexplained, Dorothy Lepkowska discusses some of the research.
A substantial increase in the number of young children suffering from hepatitis in recent months has flummoxed doctors in the UK and overseas.
In the past 4 months, there have been more than 220 – largely unexplained – cases of hepatitis in UK children, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA, 2022) at the time of going to press. Of those, 158 lived in England, 31 in Scotland, 17 in Wales and 16 in Northern Ireland.
The inflammation of the liver usually follows a viral infection and in 11 UK children this has resulted in the need for a liver transplant, and no fatalities.
Around the world, it is estimated that more than 400 children have developed hepatitis, resulting in three known deaths in Indonesia and one in the United States. UK health agencies said cases were mainly in children under the age of 5 who showed symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea and jaundice.
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