If you’re already pregnant
For those with hepatitis C, the chance of transmitting the virus to the baby during pregnancy or birth is approximately 5%. There is no evidence that a vaginal or caesarian birth helps reduce the risk of transmission.
For those who are co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV, the chance of transmitting hepatitis C to the baby is higher: approximately 22% to 36%. Taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV can help you have a healthier pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about which medications are safe for pregnancy.
If you had HCV but have cleared the virus, there is no risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners or the baby even with the presence of the hepatitis C antibody.
After the baby is born
Following birth, you may decide to begin hepatitis C treatment. Speak with your doctor about the best plan for you.
A blood test will be used to check your baby for hepatitis C several times in the first year of life. It may be a few months before the virus can be detected in the baby’s blood, which is why the test is repeated.
What if a baby has hepatitis C?
Babies born with hepatitis C may clear the virus on their own, or they may be chronically infected. For years, they may appear healthy, but often develop liver disease.
A specialist in hepatitis C should be visited regularly. In some cases, especially when there is aggressive liver disease, the doctor may recommend hepatitis C treatment.
How do hepatitis C medications affect children?
Children tend to experience milder side effects from treatment than do adults. The long-term effects of medication on children are under study, but some medications (interferon) appear to affect growth and weight.
The newer treatments that have emerged in the last few years need to be studied in children.