BACKGROUND: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections are responsible for the development of chronic hepatitis in 400 million people worldwide. Currently, no consensus exists as to when treatment should be initiated for pediatric patients.OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the risks and predictive factors of success of lamivudine treatment in children with chronic, active HBV infection.METHODS: Forty-three children (22 male, median age 9.6 years) chronically infected with HBV and treated between 1998 and 2008 at CHU Ste-Justine (Montreal, Quebec) were included in the present chart review study. Inclusion criteria were detectable hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), minimum serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level of two times the upper limit of normal and detectable serum HBV DNA for at least three months. Patients received lamivudine for a minimum of six months (median 14 months). Genotyping was performed.RESULTS: Lamivudine treatment was effective in 35% of cases (15 of 43) and overall virological response (during or after treatment) was achieved in 51% of patients. Three patients harboured suspected lamivudine-resistant mutations and five progressed to HBeAg-chronic HBV. Predictive factors for success of treatment were: younger age at beginning of treatment (P=0.05), elevated ALT levels throughout treatment duration (P=0.003) and loss of HBeAg during treatment (P=0.016). Asian origin did not affect treatment success or spontaneous viral control during follow-up. HBV genotype did not influence treatment success.CONCLUSIONS: Lamivudine treatment in a carefully selected cohort of HBV patients demonstrated a good rate of success and low incidence of mutation. Younger age at the beginning of treatment and high ALT levels during treatment predicted a positive outcome.