The researchers investigated chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in children of different ethnic origins, and published the results in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Seroconversion rates were studied in 174 hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive children, who were of different ethnic origins and living in Canada.
Overall, 40% became anti-HBeAg positive, and 9% were hepatitis B surface-antigen positive during a mean follow-up of 4.5 years.
The spontaneous seroconversion rates were lower in Asian-born, mainly vertically infected, children, versus those born either in Canada or where horizontal transmission predominates (24% vs 44%).
| Treatment accelerated seroconversion by 3 years.
| Journal of Infectious Diseases |
At 13 years after diagnosis, HBeAg had persisted in 25% of Asian-born children and 6% of all others.
The team found that treatment of 27 children accelerated seroconversion by 3 years, without influencing the proportion seroconverting over time.
Thus, although Asian-born children seroconvert more slowly, a large proportion will seroconvert before adulthood.
The team, led by George Marx, concluded that, as treatment appears to accelerate anti-HBe seroconversion, longitudinal studies are required in order to assess the long-term benefits of early treatment.