ABSTRACT: Children with hepatitis C virus infection often differ from adults regarding the rate of viral clearance, duration of infection, and the progression to cirrhosis. In the pediatric population, vertical transmission of hepatitis C virus infection from mother to infant is the most common route of infection. In the present review, we explore the factors that may influence the natural history of hepatitis C virus infection in children who acquire the infection through maternal–fetal transmission. There is particular focus on how viral diversity and the infant immune system may affect viral transmission. An enhanced understanding of maternal–fetal transmission of hepatitis C virus infection has the potential to affect effective drug and vaccine development for both children and adults.
*Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
†Merck Sharp & Dohme, Philadelphia, PA.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jessica W. Wen, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th St & Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received 9 April, 2013
Accepted 19 November, 2013
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J.W. received grant support from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Clinical Effectiveness Fund. B.H. is an employee of Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp.
The other authors report no conflicts of interest.