Hepatitis is a term used for inflammation in the liver caused by infection, mostly by viruses. When children get viral hepatitis, their immune systems often fight the disease and they mostly recover without treatment.
For some children, viral hepatitis becomes a chronic condition. If your child develops chronic hepatitis, your Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition can prescribe medicines to fight the virus and advise you on how to ease the symptoms.
Hepatitis A is the most common type of hepatitis in children. It spreads when children come in contact with food or water contaminated with the stool of an infected person. This can happen if a person with hepatitis A doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom and then picks up the child or prepares food for them. Foods such as fruits, vegetables and shellfish are sometimes contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.
The hepatitis B virus is found in blood, tears, saliva and other bodily fluids, but not in the stool. Children can get hepatitis B if these fluids get into a break in their skin or into their eyes or mouth, such as from sharing a toothbrush. Babies can get this illness from their mothers during birth.
The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. This can happen when a baby is born to a mother who has hepatitis C. Older children, adolescents and teens can become infected if they get a tattoo with a contaminated needle or otherwise come in contact with blood with the hepatitis C virus.