The aim of this study was to prospectively assess the quality of life (QOL), behavioral/emotional functioning, and cognitive status of children undergoing treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In all, 114 children (5 to 18 years old) enrolled in a multisite randomized clinical trial (Peds-C) to evaluate peginterferon alpha 2a (PEG 2a) with ribavirin (RV) or with placebo (PL) completed several standardized measures prior to treatment and at 24 weeks, 48 weeks, 6 months following treatment, and at two annual follow-up visits. After 24 weeks of treatment, mean physical QOL scores declined significantly for both groups from baseline to 24 weeks of treatment (F = 5.8, P = 0.004), although scores remained in the average range. There were no significant time or group effects for behavioral/emotional or cognitive functioning. Three children (5%) in the PEG 2a + RV group and no children in the PEG 2a + PL group had a clinically significant increase in depression symptoms. For those children who received 48 weeks of treatment, there were no significant time or group effects on any of the outcome measures (P > 0.05). A majority of children in both the PEG 2a + RV and PEG 2a + PL groups experienced no clinically significant change in physical QOL, behavioral adjustment, depression, or cognitive functioning during or after treatment. Conclusion: Overall QOL and psychosocial functioning are not deleteriously impacted by PEG 2a + RV or PL treatment of children with HCV.
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