HPV is one of the most common viruses that infect teens and adults. The virus is mainly transmitted by skin-to-skin and sexual contact. The prevalence of HPV in children is very low. However, recently there has been a change in this trend. The rate of HPV in children is on the rise. This is due to an increased prevalence of the virus and better HPV detection measures.
There are various modes of transmission of HPV in children. Children may be infected at any age. It is mainly transmitted by non-sexual means. For example, from an infected mother to her child during delivery. It should be kept in mind that sexual abuse of a child by an infected person may also lead to the transmission of HPV resulting in infections in children. Thorough clinical examination and history can aid in the diagnosis.
HPV causes cutaneous and mucosal infections in children. It may cause warts, and squamous intraepithelial lesions that can be either low-grade or high-grade.
There is a minimal risk to a child’s health during pregnancy but in rare circumstances a pregnant woman with a genital HPV infection may pass on the virus to her newborn during the delivery. The child may develop warts in the throat or on the genitals. Symptoms of HPV in children remain dormant for up to three years after birth. Warts in the throat are termed laryngeal papillomatosis. It is a very rare condition but once it occurs it must receive immediate attention and requires laser surgery to remove the condylomae (growths). The danger is, they may obstruct the child’s breathing and this can prove to be fatal.
A child’s immune system usually fights off the virus. It must be noted that 30-50 % of the warts resolve themselves within 6 months without any treatment. Other conditions require proper attention and treatment.
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