Article: Increasing Prevalence of Hepatitis C among Hospitalized Children Is Associated with an Increase in Substance Abuse—A S Barritt, et. al.
SOURCE: The Journal of Pediatrics https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.09.016
Study Aims and Results: The study was undertaken to understand the relationship between substance abuse and hepatitis C (HCV) in children by analyzing geographic and inpatient hospitalization data from 2006 to 2012.
During the study period (2006 to 2012) the number of hospitalizations of children with HCV increased by 37%. The mean age was 17.6 years old. Children (teenagers) aged 19-20 years old represented 68% of the total number of the HCV cases diagnosed. The children represented a 54% increase of HCV diagnoses of the years sampled.
The highest rates of HCV diagnoses were in whites, lower income populations, and occurred in the Northeast and Southern regions of the U.S.
The prevalence of substance use in children with HCV increased from 25% in 2006 to 41% in 2012.
The authors acknowledged that their study does not give an accurate estimate of the number of children with hepatitis C since children typically have few or no symptoms of HCV. But it does give an estimate of children with inpatient hospitalization due to substance abuse.
Conclusions: During the study period, there was a dramatic increase in hospitalizations of children with HCV related to substance use. The study pinpointed that the largest group of children with HCV and substance abuse are teenagers living in the Northeast and Southern areas of the United States.
Editorial Comments: These findings are not surprising. The second epidemic of HCV has mainly gone unchecked in the Northeast and the South, mostly in Appalachia. We have yet to address the newest epidemic of HCV on a large scale. Until we do, our most vulnerable population, children, will needlessly suffer.
Alan Franciscus is the Executive Director of the Hepatitis C Support Project and the Editor-in-Chief of the HCV Advocate Website.
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