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Hepatitis B In Children


Hepatitis B

is inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The infection is called acute when a person first becomes infected. The infection becomes chronic after 6 months. Chronic hepatitis B is less common in children than in adults.

Common signs and symptoms:

Your child may have no signs or symptoms and may not know he has been infected. Once he is infected with HBV, it can take from 1 to 6 months before symptoms develop. He may have any of the following:

  • Dark urine or pale bowel movements
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), itchy skin, or skin rash
  • Joint pain and body aches
  • Pain in the right upper side of your child's abdomen

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has a sudden, severe headache and head pressure.
  • Your child has new or increased bruising or red or purple dots on his skin. He may also have bleeding that does not stop easily.
  • Your child's abdomen is swollen.
  • Your child has severe nausea or cannot stop vomiting.
  • You see blood in your child's urine or bowel movements, or he vomits blood.
  • Your child has new or increased yellowing of his skin or the whites of his eyes.
  • Your child has severe pain in his upper abdomen.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • The palms of your child's hands are red.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new or increased swelling in his legs, ankles, or feet.
  • Your child's muscles get smaller and weaker.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


may not be needed. Hepatitis B may last a short time and go away on its own. Your child's healthcare provider will monitor his signs and symptoms closely for signs of liver disease. If needed, treatment may help improve the function of your child's liver and decrease his symptoms. He may need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to help fight HBV and keep it from spreading in your child's body.
  • A plasma or platelet transfusion may be needed if your child's blood is not clotting as it should. Plasma and platelets are parts of your child's blood that help his blood clot. He will get the transfusion through an IV.
  • A liver transplant is surgery to replace your child's diseased liver with a donor liver. Your child may need a liver transplant if he has severe liver disease or liver failure.

Prevent the spread of HBV:

  • Have your child cover any open cuts or scratches. If blood from a wound gets on a surface, clean the surface with bleach right away. Put on gloves before you clean. Throw away any items with blood or body fluids on them, as directed by your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not let your child share personal items. These items include toothbrushes, nail clippers, and razors. Tell him not to share needles.
  • Tell household members that your child has HBV. Anyone who has not been vaccinated against hepatitis B may need to start treatment to help prevent infection. Everyone should wash their hands often, especially after using the bathroom and before eating. Regular handwashing is important for your child and everyone who lives with him.
  • Talk to your adolescent about safe sex. If your adolescent is sexually active, tell him to use a condom during sex. Sexually active girls should have their male partners wear a condom.
  • Protect your baby. If you are pregnant, ask your healthcare provider for more information on keeping your baby from getting HBV. He will need a vaccination or treatment if you plan to breastfeed.
  • Do not let your child donate blood. Donations are screened for HBV, but it is best not to donate at all.

Manage hepatitis B:

  • Have your child eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats and fish, and whole-grain breads. Ask if your child needs to be on a special diet.
  • Have your child drink more liquids. Liquids help your child's liver function properly. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him.
  • Talk to your adolescent about not drinking alcohol. Alcohol can increase liver damage. Talk to your healthcare provider if your adolescent drinks alcohol and needs help to stop.
  • Talk to your adolescent about not smoking. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage hepatitis B. Smoking can also lead to more liver damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if your adolescent currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before your adolescent uses these products.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.