Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Cause of Neonatal Hepatitis is derived by various elements like viruses, diseases or environmental conditions which ultimately cause the liver to become inflamed. When hepatitis occurs in childhood, this is called “neonatal hepatitis”.
Twenty percent of neonatal hepatitis is caused by a virus that was passed from mother to child, either before birth or shortly after it. In eighty percent of hepatitis cases, experts of medical sciences cannot conclude the exact cause; however, it is suspected that these cases were also caused by some type of viral infectivity.
Viruses which Cause of Neonatal Hepatitis
“Cytomegalovirus” or “CMV” is one of the viruse responsible for neonatal hepatitis in some babies and is the most common type of virus that is transmitted from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy. Other viruses that can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy which can cause neonatal hepatitis include measles (rubella) and hepatitis viruses, including A, B or C.
In many cases of hepatitis when the exact cause is undetermined, a liver biopsy will be performed. This biopsy will often show the presence of “giant cell hepatitis” that is characterized by four or five normal liver cells which combines to form a cell that can be useful, however, it is noted that it cannot execute exact performance like standard smaller liver cells in the body.
Complications and Symptoms of Neonatal Hepatitis
The main symptom that occurs when a baby has neonatal hepatitis is jaundice, which causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow. This condition is caused by the bile ducts of the liver that become inflamed or swollen and block the flow of bile to the digestive system, which causes it to accumulate and enter the bloodstream.
For this reason, neonatal hepatitis causes some of the same or very similar symptoms to another liver disease that is mainly seen in babies called “biliary atresia,” however, the spleen will get larger in neonatal hepatitis, but usually it does not with biliary atresia. This symptom of an enlarged spleen and laboratory tests that include a liver biopsy is what, it is used to determine and confirm a diagnosis of these diseases compared to biliary atresia.
Babies with neonatal hepatitis will also have a stunted growth and will not gain weight at a normal speed because they can not absorb the vitamins and nutrients needed for growth.
Most babies will recover from giant cell hepatitis and may have little or no scar tissue in the liver; however, about twenty percent of babies who have giant cell hepatitis will develop a chronic liver disease that will cause permanent damage to the liver from the formation of scar tissue and will require a liver transplant at some point. In cases where neonatal hepatitis was caused by cytomegalovirus or rubella viruses, there is a possibility that an infection may occur in the brain that can cause cerebral palsy or mental retardation.
Treatment for Neonatal Hepatitis
In toddlers who developed neonatal hepatitis due to the hepatitis A virus, this condition will usually go away on its own within a period of six months; however, when hepatitis is caused by hepatitis B and C viruses, it is likely that this causes liver disease that is persistent, resulting in cirrhosis which will have need of a liver transplant in the future.
In general, babies will be prescribed vitamin and phenobarbital supplements that will increase the production of bile in the liver and a special formula that contains fats that are easier to digest.
There is a possibility that babies who have developed neonatal hepatitis due to hepatitis A, B or C virus, rubella or CMV will pass this virus to others. It is vital that pregnant women avoid coming into contact with an infected baby, as there is a risk that they can transmit this virus to the unborn baby.