If a baby is born to an HCV+ mother and its blood was tested at birth for
hepatitis C antibodies, the test would come back positive. This is
because the baby has some of its mother’s antibodies.
These antibodies clear naturally over time. A test at 12 months usually
confirms whether or not a toddler has the virus. The rate of fetal
infections in HCV+ mothers is about 6%. The rate goes up if the mother is
co-infected with HIV.
Any woman, or partner of a man, who has taken ribavirin must wait 6 months after the end treatment before becoming pregnant to avoid birth defects.
BREASTFEEDING : There has been no documented case of HCV being transmitted by
breastfeeding, and the rates of infant infection are identical in both
breast- and bottle-fed infants. There are many advantages to
breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mothers should check their nipples before
each feed and avoid breastfeeding if they are cracked or bleeding. They
may want to consider using breast shields.
It is not known if interferon or ribavirin are passed on to the baby through
Circulating HCV RNA does not increase pregnancy complications.
A substantial proportion of pregnant women with hepatitis C virus infection
have circulating HCV RNA, even when they are asymptomatic, however, these
women do not have an increased risk of obstetric complications and that
pregnancy does not appear to induce symptomatic liver disease. “There is
no risk to the outcome of pregnancy in an anti-HCV positive pregnant
mother. The majority of pregnant women have normal transaminase levels
during the course of pregnancy, although a substantial proportion have
circulating HCV RNA. Pregnancy does not induce a deterioration of liver
disease, and HCV infection does not increase the risk of obstetric
complications.” - - “HCV Infection in Pregnancy,” British Journal of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1996;103:325-329.
There is a high mortality rate among pregnant patients infected with hepatitis E, which sometimes accompanies hepatitis C. There have been no studies on pregnant women taking interferon.