Hepatitis B virus infection in native versus immigrant or adopted children in Italy following the compulsory vaccination

R. Giacchino, L. Zancan, P. Vajro, G. Verucchi, M. Resti, C. Barbera, A. Maccabruni, M. Marcellini, F. Balli, A. Cascio, G. Nebbia, C. Crivellaro, F. Bortolotti, M. G. Clemente, P. Bragetti, P. Valentini, N. Mazzoni, G. Losurdo, E. Cristina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Compulsory vaccination of children against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was introduced in Italy in 1991. Patients and Methods: To evaluate the current importance of pediatric HBV infection, we studied 359 HBsAg-positive children admitted to 16 centers in Italy from 1991 to 1998. 185 patients were natives of Italy and 174 (39 immigrants and 135 adopted) came from highly endemic countries (eastern Europe: 60.9%, Asia: 16.7%, Africa: 14.9% and Central and South America: 5.7%). Results: Transaminase levels were moderately altered in both Italian (mean 134 UI/l) and foreign children (mean 168 UI/l). In total, 77% of Italian children and 88% of foreign children tested HBeAg positive. High transaminase levels and HBeAg positivity were more frequent in adopted children. Follow-up of 317 patients showed that the incidence of HBeAg/anti-HBe serum conversion was similar in all cohorts, but in adopted children it occurred at an earlier age and was associated with HBsAg clearance in 5%. Conclusion: HBV is not frequent in Italian children today, but it is common among children coming from highly endemic areas. The vaccination of nonimmune native populations must be strongly recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-191
Number of pages4
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Adopted children
  • HBV vaccination
  • Hepatitis B virus hepatitis
  • Immigrant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Immunology


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