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Pediatric Hepatitis A Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, MA(Cantab), FAAP; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
 
Updated: Apr 14, 2016
 

History and Physical Examination

History

The incubation period from the time of exposure to hepatitis A virus (HAV) to the appearance of symptoms is around 28 days (range 2 wk to 6 mo). The patient’s initial symptoms during the prodromal period include low-grade fever, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain. Older children and adults are more likely to report pain in the right upper quadrant.

Diarrhea may occur in young children, whereas constipation is more common in adults. If present, jaundice, dark urine, and light-colored stool develop several days to a week after the onset of systemic symptoms. Anicteric infections are common in young children.

Physical examination

The general appearance is that of mild-to-moderate illness. A patient who appears severely ill is likely to have hepatitis of another cause or an atypical course. Mild hepatomegaly and right upper quadrant tenderness may be present. Clinical jaundice is present in two thirds of symptomatic patients. Splenomegaly may occur in 10-20% of patients.

Complications

Complications are few. Fulminant hepatitis with massive hepatic necrosis and liver failure due to HAV infection is rare. Cholestatic hepatitis occurs in a small percentage of patients. It is identified by persistent hyperbilirubinemia, pruritus, and constitutional symptoms that last for 12-16 weeks in the absence of biliary obstruction on sonograms.

 
 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, MA(Cantab), FAAP Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Co-Director of Antimicrobial Stewardship, Medical Director, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, MA(Cantab), FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Received research grant from: Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Durata Therapeutics, and Biota Pharmaceutical<br/>Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: HealthyCT insurance<br/>Medico legal consulting for: Various.

Coauthor(s)

Joseph Domachowske, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, State University of New York Upstate Medical University

Joseph Domachowske, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Received research grant from: Pfizer;GlaxoSmithKline;AstraZeneca;Merck;American Academy of Pediatrics<br/>Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: Sanofi Pasteur;Astra Zeneca;Novartis<br/>Consulting fees for: Sanofi Pasteur; Novartis; Merck; Astra Zeneca.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Russell W Steele, MD Clinical Professor, Tulane University School of Medicine; Staff Physician, Ochsner Clinic Foundation

Russell W Steele, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Immunologists, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Louisiana State Medical Society, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Leslie L Barton, MD Professor Emerita of Pediatrics, University of Arizona College of Medicine

Leslie L Barton, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of Pediatric Program Directors, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Incidence of acute hepatitis A virus in the United States from 1982-2006. (Image from "Surveillance for Acute Viral Hepatitis --- United States, 2006." MMWR March 21, 2008. 57(SS02);1-24)
 
 
 
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