Young female child in a field looking into the distance
Sudden onset hepatitis of unknown causes accounts for approximately 20% of children who develop acute liver failure in the UK per year.

The year 2022 has seen a recent increase in unexplained acute hepatitis in children (also known as indeterminate or non-A-E hepatitis). Professor Deirdre Kelly and Dr Zania Stamataki from the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of Birmingham, review emerging evidence and hypotheses in relation to potential long-term effects of COVID-19 for young children. 

According to Professor Kelly and Dr Stamataki's review, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are currently conducting several lines of investigation into the sudden onset of this rare disease, including evaluating genetic backgrounds of children and their parents and their response to viruses (which includes COVID-19).

Professor Kelly and Dr Stamataki's review poses the question as to whether indeterminate or non-A-E hepatitis is a new disease, or whether it has come about via co-infections after the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Another explanation for the sudden onset of hepatitis could be due to harmful immune responses where virus-specific T Cells cause damage to the liver as a consequence. 

The full review, which was published on Nature Reviews: Gastroenterology & Hepatology, is available to read online.

1. Kelly, D.A., Stamataki, Z. Sudden onset hepatitis in children. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol (2022).