Gastroenterology & GI Surgery
Liver Transplant

As unexplained cases of pediatric hepatitis slightly increase around the country, parents and caregivers are wondering if they should be concerned. 

We spoke to Dr. Sheetal Wadera, medical director of liver transplant at Phoenix Children’s, about the signs, symptoms and possible causes of pediatric hepatitis.

Child in hospital bed, getting checked by provider

What is hepatitis and what causes it?

Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can have a variety of causes, ranging from infection to genetic or metabolic disease, so diagnosis and treatment may look different for each patient.

What is causing a rise in unexplained cases of pediatric hepatitis?

Across the country, we are seeing a slight increase in unexplained cases of pediatric hepatitis since the beginning of this year, but these cases are still extremely rare. These cases are being analyzed for patterns and possible links.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has reported possible cases to the CDC, but the CDC is not releasing specific numbers for each state due to patient privacy.

The CDC has investigated some cases of hepatitis in which patients also tested positive for an adenovirus infection, specifically type 40/41. This type of adenovirus is found in the lower gastrointestinal tract and may lead to diarrhea, nausea and vomiting; this association hasn’t been reported before. However, there hasn’t been an association between hepatitis and adenovirus thus far at Phoenix Children’s.

There are currently no links between hepatitis and COVID or COVID vaccines.

What signs and symptoms should parents look for?

Parents and guardians know their children best, so it is important to be aware of how kids are acting. Parents should look for:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Should parents be concerned?

There is no need to panic as these unexplained hepatitis cases are still very rare. Hepatitis progressing to liver failure requiring a liver transplant is even more rare.


If you have questions or concerns specific to your child, consult your pediatrician.