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Transfusion. 2007 Apr;47(4):615-20.

The epidemiology of transfusion-associated hepatitis C in a children's hospital.

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  • 1Division of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



Children transfused with blood and blood products before 1992 are at risk for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. To determine the prevalence of HCV infection and risks associated with acquisition of HCV, a single-institution lookback study was performed.


A total of 5473 infants and children who received transfusions between 1982 and 1992 were identified. A control population of 600 age-, sex-, race- and zip code-matched children who did not receive transfusions with the same exclusions provided background seroprevalence data. Patients were tested for antibodies to HCV, confirmed with second generation recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) and when appropriate quantitative and qualitative HCV RNA by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Viral persistence was assessed by serial PCR determinations for HCV RNA.


Of the 5473 eligible patients, 4726 were locatable and 2758 were tested. Forty-three children (1.6%) were persistently anti-HCV enzyme immunoassay (EIA)-positive, confirmed by RIBA; 39 were positive for the presence of HCV RNA. Four cleared their virus as assessed by two negative HCV PCRs 6 months apart. There was a borderline higher number of children with HCV who received fresh whole blood than those who tested HCV-negative.


Because HCV infection is generally asymptomatic, children are not identified unless they are specifically tested. We identified, enrolled, tested, and confirmed a new diagnosis of HCV infection in 43 patients. As HCV treatments become increasingly effective, it is important to identify silently infected individuals, particularly when the infection was iatrogenically induced.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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