Approved Drugs for Children
Chronic hepatitis B is normally a mild disease in children and teens. Most children can expect to live full, healthy lives unmarked by visible symptoms. In some children, however, the virus can cause serious liver damage. These children will need medical intervention and treatment.
ALL children with chronic hepatitis B should be seen regularly by a pediatric liver specialist or knowledgeable doctor whether they are on treatment or not. Visits may be every six months or once a year, depending on your child's situation. A physical exam, blood tests, and possible ultrasounds of the liver are part of the usual visit.
There are currently two approved treatment options available in the United States for children with chronic hepatitis B.
Interferon alpha (Intron A) is an injection usually given three times a week for 6 months to a year. Children generally experience fewer side effects than adults, but they can include flu-like symptoms.
Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV, Zeffix, Heptodin) is a pill that is taken once a day for at least one year or more. There are almost no side effects.
Not every child (or adult) with chronic hepatitis B needs to be treated. A pediatric liver specialist should evaluate your child to see if she or he is a candidate for treatment based on a physical exam, blood tests, and other test results. Treatment appears to be of greatest benefit to those who show signs of active liver disease.
Read the Hepatitis B Foundation’s Pediatric HBV Recommendations
The Hepatitis B Foundation convened an Expert Pediatric Panel of nationally recognized pediatric liver specialists to create the first national recommendations for children living with hepatitis B to ensure that they receive the best care possible.
HBF's Pediatric HBV Screening and Monitoring Recommendations
(Published in Pediatrics Nov. 2009)
HBF's Pediatric HBV Management and Treatment Recommendations
(Published in Hepatology Oct. 2010)