Interferon alpha with or without ribavirin produces a similar response rate in children with chronic hepatitis C, according to a study reported in the September issue of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
The study involved 20 chronic hepatitis C patients -- 11 boys and 9 girls -- whose average age was about 11. The children were treated for hepatitis C between 1995 and 2001. Most of the participants had been infected with hepatitis C while being treated for cancer.
Seven of the children diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C before 1998 were treated with interferon alpha three times weekly for six to 12 months. Thirteen children diagnosed after 1998 were treated with interferon alpha plus ribavirin for six months.
Three of the seven children (43 percent) treated with interferon alpha alone responded sucessfully, while seven of the 12 children (54 percent) treated with interferon alpha plus ribavirin responded successfully.
Researcher Dr. Raanan Shamir, of Meyer Children's Hospital of Haifa, Israel, told Medical Week that the most important finding does not involve the type of treatment, but the importance of iniating treatment early. He noted that the the response rates in the study for interferon plus ribavirin were in the range observed in adults.
Other sources: Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2003; 37(3):252-257