11:47pm Monday 21 October 2019

Texas Children’s Hospital Conducts First HBV Study to Record Hepatitis B Incidence in Houston Children

Physicians from the Texas Children’s Hepatitis Clinic begin to address this problem with a study to estimate the true incidence and distribution of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in children living in Houston.


“Hepatitis B virus is a devastating global healthcare problem and Houston has one of the largest at-risk communities in the nation,” said Dr. Daniel Leung, Director of the Texas Children’s Viral Hepatitis Clinic. “This project aims to better define the true burden of HBV in children and identify the risk factors for the pediatric HBV cases in Houston”.

To best conduct this study and most accurately report the HBV pediatric cases in Houston,
Texas Children’s Hospital asks for the participation of local physicians to provide data.

Data gathered from this retrospective chart review will be used to educate the community, physicians, schools, families, and patients about the burden of illness, risks for HBV, and its prevention.

The Problem

Worldwide, 400 million people live with chronic HBV with one-third having acquired the disease as children. Up to 95 percent of infants are acutely infected as a neonate and 80 percent of children less than five years old are asymptomatic, yet will develop chronic infection.

Unfortunately, only “acute” or symptomatic cases are reportable by the CDC, leaving hundreds to thousands of chronic and asymptomatic cases of pediatric HBV unreported and thus untreated.

Without treatment, one quarter of these children will eventually develop cirrhosis, liver failure, or hepatocellular carcinoma. Vertical and horizontal transmissions continue to be active problems due to inadequate or unavailable screening or prophylaxis and continuous immigration from areas of endemicity.

The lack of HBV awareness in the public consciousness has resulted in the reduction of HBV’s visibility below other less prevalent communicable diseases, thus resulting in lack of federal funding for research and educational programs.

While HBV affects a population seven-fold greater than those infected with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined, the amount of federal funding by the CDC to support viral hepatitis programs and research for both Hepatitis B and C is 1/45th that of HIV and TB. Current federal funding for Hepatitis B and C is $18.3 million compared to $692 million for HIV and $144 million for TB.

Houston is a prime location for this study being the fourth largest city in the US and having one of the largest at-risk immigrant communities in the nation, including the third largest Vietnamese community.

The Project

This study aims to estimate the true incidence and distribution of HBV among children (ages 0-17) in Houston, Texas and the Greater Houston area. The data will identify specific racial, demographic, environmental, and socioeconomic features that are potential risk factors for the acquisition of HBV in children and may determine the magnitude and determinants of underreporting of HBV.

Dr. Leung is working closely with the City of Houston and Texas Department of State Health on gathering pediatric data. “By comparing passively reported city data and surveillance of pediatric HBV cases within the Houston-wide Texas Children’s network over a ten-year period, the project seeks to understand potential gaps in reporting and identify how to improve reporting,” said Leung.

If you are a care provider and interested in participating in this study or require a patient consultation, please contact Dr. Daniel Leung at tcpahepatitis@texaschildrens.org.
Learn more about the Texas Children’s Viral Hepatitis Clinic.

About Texas Children’s Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital is committed to a community of healthy children by providing the finest pediatric patient care, education and research. Renowned worldwide for its expertise and breakthrough developments in clinical care and research, Texas Children’s is ranked in the top 10 best children’s hospitals by U.S. News and World Report. Texas Children’s also operates the nation’s largest primary pediatric care network, with over 40 offices throughout the greater Houston community. Texas Children’s has embarked on a $1.5 billion expansion, Vision 2010, which includes a neurological research institute, a comprehensive obstetrics facility focusing on high risk births, and a community hospital in suburban West Houston. Get the latest Texas Children’s news on Twitter: www.twitter.com/texaschildrens

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Nicole Terry

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