Science

Guidance needed from Centre on hepatitis in children with Covid-19, say experts

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on: May 17, 2022
Reports are linking the incidents of severe hepatitis in young children to Covid-19, even as the scientific community debates this

Reports are linking the incidents of severe hepatitis in young children to Covid-19, even as the scientific community debates this | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Several countries, including the UK, the US, France, Israel and Italy are reporting severe hepatitis in children with Covid-19

As severe hepatitis of an unknown origin gets reported in young children from different parts of the world, doctors need to keep an eye out for this condition, when children present with diarrhoea, rashes or a viral fever, said paediatrician Dr Vipin Vashishtha.

Reports are linking the incidents of severe hepatitis in young children to Covid-19, even as the scientific community debates this, he said, urging the Union Health Ministry to come up with guidelines on how to manage children with hepatitis, possibly linked to Covid-19. Recently, doctors in Madhya Pradesh reported hepatitis in children with Covid-19. 

Increasing cases

In the last one month, Vashishtha has seen about five children presenting with cold, cough, diarrhoea and high levels of liver enzymes, he told BusinessLine. These children were between the 6 to 14 month age group and they tested positive for Covid-19. While four of them got better with symptomatic treatment, one infant succumbed to the illness, he said.

Usually hepatitis is seen in children above two years, he said, except if they were serious. But the infants showed high liver values like SGPT in the 1000s, when it should be around 40-50, said Vashishtha, former national convener with the Indian Academy of Paediatrics — committee on immunisation. “Doctors should have a high index of suspicion, since such reports are emerging from rest of the world,” he said.

While this recent development is still being studied by researchers, Vashishtha said one explanation is that “children’s immunity systems are more exuberant and is sent into an over-drive by the virus”. Parents of children below 10 years need to keep this at the back of their heads, he said, urging everyone to be aware of this possibility.

Several countries, including the UK, the US, France, Israel and Italy are reporting severe hepatitis in children with Covid-19. The World Health Organization has in the past, dismissed links of hepatitis to the Covid-19 vaccines. 

Published on May 17, 2022
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