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Abstract

There have been very few reports dealing with liver failure related to hepatitis A in children. Moreover, the criteria usually used for selecting patients with fulminant hepatitis A for liver transplantation have not been evaluated in children. Therefore, the current study was conducted retrospectively in a single French urban pediatric liver transplantation center to serve as a reminder of the potential severity of hepatits A in children and to identify predictors of outcome. Children were selected by chart review using a data base system and were grouped according to outcome for analyses purposes. Over a 15-year period, 24 children with hepatitis A showed evidence of liver failure, including 6 children who did not develop hepatic encephalopathy, 7 children in whom encephalopathy occurred but resolved spontaneously, and 11 children in whom death or liver transplantation was the outcome. The mean age at onset was 6.5 years. Those with the most rapid onset of liver failure from onset of jaundice had the best chance of recovery without developing encephalopathy. Otherwise, no predictive factors of outcome were found at onset of liver failure. Among the 18 children who developed encephalopathy, the best early prognostic indicator of a poor outcome irrespective of the grade of encephalopathy, appeared to be a prothrombin time level below 21% of normal combined with a serum bilirubin level above 400 µmol/L. Therefore, these two prognostic indicators may be helpful in deciding liver transplantation in children with hepatitis A-induced fulminant liver failure.