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Health-related quality of life in children with hepatitis C acquired in the first year of life


Dr Winita Hardikar, Department of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Email:


Aims:  The first aim of this study was to determine the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of children with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and compare HRQoL as reported by parents. The second aim was to ascertain parents' perceptions and concerns about current and future life for their child with HCV, and compare these findings with those reported by adolescents.

Methods:  The study group comprised children attending a tertiary pediatric HCV-clinic in Melbourne, Australia, who acquired HCV prior to 12 months of age by vertical transmission or blood transfusion. Two validated (parent- and self-reported) questionnaires of HRQoL were completed (CHQ-PF 50 and CHQ-CF 50). Scores for children with HCV were compared with normative data (representative sample of 3119 age-matched Victorian children). A study-designed questionnaire relating to the impact of the diagnosis of HCV on parent and child perceptions of current and future health was administered.

Results:  In total, 83% (19/23) questionnaires were returned. Physical and psychosocial summary scores were significantly lower in HCV than non-HCV children (45.3 vs 49.6 and 44.0 vs 50.1, respectively). Nine out of 11 scale scores were significantly lower in children with HCV, most notably the General health (49.9 vs 77.1; P < 0.001) and Parent impact–emotional (45.6 vs 80.3; P < 0.001) scales. Children reported reduced physical functioning (82.8% vs 94.4%) but were otherwise less concerned than their parents about their future health.

Conclusions:  Despite being “asymptomatic” on routine medical history, children with early acquired HCV have significantly poorer health status than community controls. These findings suggest the need for services currently available for adult HCV patients to support families and children with HCV.