The prevalence of hepatitis C in pregnancy is as high as 3.6% in large cohorts. The prevalence of hepatitis C acquired by vertical transmission is 0.2% to 0.4% in the United States and Europe. Although screening is not recommended in the absence of certain risk factors, the importance of understanding hepatitis C in pregnancy lies in its association with adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. There is potential for those infants infected by vertical transmission to develop chronic hepatitis C, cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. The risk of vertical transmission is increased when mothers are co-infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or possess a high viral load. There is no clear data supporting that mode of delivery increases or reduces risk. Breastfeeding is not associated with increased risk of transmission. Premature rupture of membranes, invasive procedures (such as amniocentesis), intrapartum events, or fetal scalp monitoring may increase risk of transmission. In pregnant patients, hepatitis C is diagnosed with a positive ELISA-3 and detectable Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) RNA viral load. Infants born to HCV-infected mothers should be tested for either HCV RNA on at least two separate occasions. Although prevention is not possible, there may be a role for newer direct acting anti-viral medications in the future.
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