Hepatitis and Chronic Liver Disease in Children

Hepatitis means “inflammation of the liver,” without pinpointing a specific cause. It is most commonly caused by one of three viruses — the hepatitis A virus, the hepatitis B virus, or the hepatitis C virus.

If your child has hepatitis, then he or she may:

  • have one of several disorders, including a viral or bacterial infection of the liver.
  • have had a liver injury caused by a toxin (poison) or trauma.
  • have liver damage caused by interruption of the organ’s normal blood supply.
  • be experiencing an attack by his or her own immune system through an autoimmune disorder.

Metabolic liver disease is a genetic disorder in which abnormal chemical reactions in the body disrupt the body’s metabolism. When this happens, the body has too much of some substances, or too little of others, to stay healthy.

Acute liver failure occurs when many of the cells in the liver suddenly die or stop functioning and the liver is unable to perform its role. Acute liver failure develops over a period of days or weeks and demands immediate care. There are many causes of acute liver failure, and treatment depends upon what caused the liver to stop functioning properly. It is difficult to predict what will happen to a child with acute liver failure; some will recover completely, others will require liver transplantation, and a few will die.

General information

The liver is located in the upper right corner of the abdomen and performs over 500 vital functions. Some of these include:

  • Processing all of the nutrients required by the body, including proteins, sugars, vitamins, and fats;
  • Removing toxins from the body, including drugs and harmful substances produced by digestion;
  • Providing bile, which aids in digestion and helps eliminate toxins from the body; and
  • Producing blood clotting proteins to prevent excessive or spontaneous bleeding.

Causes of acute liver failure seem to vary based on the age of the child. Infection or metabolic conditions at birth are the most common causes of acute liver failure in children under 2 years old. Hepatitis caused by a virus (such as hepatitis A or B) and drug-induced liver failure, such as acetaminophen hepatotoxicity, are more likely in older children.

Treatments include:

  • Dietary changes to decrease the amount of certain substances being ingested, such as iron and copper.
  • Phlebotomy to remove excess substances from the blood.
  • Medications to release excess substances from the organs into the bloodstream so they can be eliminated.
  • Phototherapy to reduce the amount of bilirubin in the body.
  • Liver transplantation, which is the only cure for end stage liver disease.

SSA Medical  Listing 105.00 – Digestive System – Childhood

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that liver disease can be disabling in children as well as adults. SSA Medical  Listing 105.00, located in Part B of the SSA’s List of Impairments covers the criteria for qualifying for disability benefits if your child suffers from liver disease. Because the severity of symptoms varies, a diagnosis alone is not sufficient to establish disability.

SSA will request your child’s medical evidence, including clinical and laboratory findings. The documentation should include appropriate medically acceptable imaging studies and reports of endoscopy, operations, and pathology, when applicable, to document the severity and duration of your child’s liver or digestive disorder. Assessments of your child’s growth and development also may be required. The findings must occur within the period being considered in connection with your child’s application for disability benefits or continuing disability review.

Your representative can help you determine whether your child’s liver issues are severe enough to qualify for disability benefits under the guidelines of the Social Security Administration.