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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2000 Feb;30(2):201-6.

Long-term outcome of chronic hepatitis B in adolescents or young adults in follow-up from childhood.

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Department of Pediatrics, National Defense Medical College, Saitama, Tokorozawa City, Japan.



It has not yet been defined whether children with chronic hepatitis B are likely to develop severe liver disease in the future. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the evolution of chronic hepatitis B acquired in childhood.


Fifty-two children in the age range of 0 to 15 years who were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B e antigen in serum for at least 6 months were enrolled in this study. In the majority of the 52 children, hepatitis B virus infection was acquired by perinatal transmission. All 52 showed abnormal liver function test findings for more than 6 months before enrollment, and the subjects were followed up longitudinally for 3 to 22 years (mean, 11 years). They are now more than 15 years of age (15-27 years old).


During the follow-up period, 26 (50%) children had spontaneous seroconversion to anti-hepatitis B e. Serum levels of alanine aminotransferase normalized in these 26 children. In one child of these children, hepatocellular carcinoma developed at the age of 21 years, 16 years after seroconversion, although his liver function profiles remained normal. The other 26 children remained hepatitis B e antigen positive, most with unchanged biochemical features. Sixteen (62%) children among these 26 children were treated with interferon-alpha. Eleven (69%) children had seroconversion to anti-hepatitis B e within the first year after the cessation of therapy. Hepatocellular carcinoma developed in 1 of these 11 children at the age of 16 years, 6 years after interferon therapy. Thus, hepatocellular carcinoma developed in two children in an anti-hepatitis B e positive phase.


All children carrying hepatitis B surface antigen should be observed carefully to monitor the possible development of hepatocellular carcinoma, especially in the antihepatitis B e-positive phase after spontaneous seroconversion or even after interferon treatment.

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