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How to think about the unexplained cases of severe hepatitis in children

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As if parents don’t have enough to worry about — a global pandemic, a baby formula shortage — there is a new mysterious ailment afflicting young children in the form of severe hepatitis.

Here’s the bottom line: This is not reason for panic, but it does deserve vigilance. Parents should also be wary of speculation about the illness. There is still much we don’t know.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating at least 109 cases of the condition in the United States. Similar illnesses have been reported in at least two dozen countries, from Argentina to Denmark to Indonesia. Worldwide, there are approximately 450 reports, with the highest numbers in Britain and the United States.

Many cases are severe. Among afflicted American children, more than 90 percent required hospitalization. Fifteen have required liver transplants. Five have died.

The disease appears to be concentrated in younger children. According to the CDC, most of those affected are under 5, with the median age being just 2 years old. Many are previously healthy children who have no known underlying medical conditions. Cases have been detected in 25 states, and there is no clear geographical pattern.

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© Washington Post

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