Hepatitis C and Pregnancy

Hepatitis C can be difficult to live with at the best of times but how do you manage this infection should you be pregnant?

There are many affects Hepatitis C can have on a pregnancy, below are details on every aspect of Hepatitis during pregnancy you need to be aware of.

Vertical Transmission

Many women get worried about how Hepatitis will affect the baby. Will my baby become infected? Will my baby have any long-term affects?

Vertical Transmission means a disease or infection being passed from a mother to a child during the birth process. Although the transmission of Hepatitis C from mother to daughter is quite rare, roughly a six percent chance, there is still the possibility of transmission to occur. The risk of passing an infection from mother to child during delivery has not been proven to alter through different delivery methods.

Complications from medication

A pregnant woman with Hepatitis C should not take Interferon or Ribavirin (medication taken to alleviate the affects of Hepatitis) during pregnancy. Although there is not any hard evidence to show that these drugs affect a baby during pregnancy, guidelines recommended from the manufacturer say that a woman taking these drugs or 6 months post finishing a course of these drugs should use adequate contraception, as there is a high possibility of birth defects.

Can an infected mother breast-feed?

There is very limited information about the affects of breast-feeding a baby if you are infected with Hepatitis C although guidelines do say the safety of breast-feeding has not been satisfactorily proven so information should be given to all mothers who wish to breast feed so they can make their own decision.

Post birth child medical care

The only precaution taken after birth is to determine if the infection has passed from mother to child, the only issue with diagnosing a new born child with Hepatitis is the fact that passively transferred maternal antibody stays within the child for up to ten months post pregnancy. Most children who are infected through childbirth are normally diagnosed at around the three-month mark.

Why is there a lack of evidence on Hepatitis during pregnancy?

Hepatitis C was only confirmed as a virus in 1989, due to this there is limited information available on the affects Hepatitis has on pregnancy. There is growing evidence and increased awareness on the affects but there is still a lot of study and research is still needed to confirm the evidence as fact.

The other reason why there is a lack of information is because most cases of Hepatitis go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for long periods of time, which makes the ability of monitoring pregnancy cases even harder.

If you are considering having a child and you are not sure if you may have Hepatitis C, you may wish to visit your doctor and ask for tests to be carried out. Should you know that you suffer with Hepatitis C it may be beneficial for you to talk through the affects of the infection on pregnancy with your doctor.