Possible hepatitis and Covid link

Long COVID may be behind mysterious liver disease in kids, Israeli study says

Researchers say laundry list of different tests in five children hospitalized for the condition have found the only thread connecting all cases to be a recent coronavirus infection

Dr. Itay Gal |
Published: 06.14.22, 00:23
A mysterious liver illness that has been striking children worldwide could be one of the long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection, also known as long COVID, according to a study conducted by Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva that will be published this week in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
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  • Researchers at Schneider found that ten of the 22 Israeli children who were hospitalized for the condition have previously recovered from COVID-19. Since all children had a similar health background, researchers inferred that the illness was the result of long COVID.
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    מחלת כבד שומני
    מחלת כבד שומני
    Possible hepatitis and Covid link
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    In the study, researchers have detailed the treatment of five children hospitalized for the condition over the past year. A laundry list of different tests, including genetic mapping and liver biopsies, have found the only thread connecting all cases to be a recent coronavirus infection.
    "The children arrived with the same cases of hepatitis and acute jaundice," said Dr. Orith Waisbourd-Zinman, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Schneider.
    "We ran comprehensive check-ups and found that all the children had COVID before and were unvaccinated. Since then, we've received another eight children with hepatitis, and there too, we could only identify COVID. Additional data from Shaare Zedek Medical Center [in Jerusalem] and Rambam Health Care Campus [in Haifa] showed similar results."
    According to Dr. Waisbourd-Zinman, the link between hepatitis cases in children and COVID is inconclusive, but data from all around the world suggests it exists.
    2 View gallery
    השתלת כבד
    השתלת כבד
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    "There are cases of unclear hepatitis in children every year," she said. "The current group of cases of significant hepatitis and COVID points us to the conclusion that the condition is the result of long COVID. Obviously, there is still doubt, but it seems that coronavirus is the main cause of the disease, and not the adenovirus, as we initially assumed."
    So far, 700 children were reported to have had the condition across 34 different countries. About 10% percent of them required a liver transplant, and four passed away.
    Some of the disease's symptoms include stomach aches, diarrhea and vomiting before the outset of acute hepatitis, as well as jaundice and elevated levels of liver enzymes in blood tests. The common viruses that usually cause such acute viral hepatitis weren't detected in any of the cases.
    The Health Ministry issued instructions to physicians requiring them to report on any case or suspicion of viral hepatitis that displayed the listed symptoms.
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