Hepatitis C in pregnancy: screening, treatment, and management

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Abstract

In the United States, 1-2.5% of pregnant women are infected with hepatitis C virus, which carries an approximately 5% risk of transmission from mother to infant. Hepatitis C virus can be transmitted to the infant in utero or during the peripartum period, and infection during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of adverse fetal outcomes, including fetal growth restriction and low birthweight. The purpose of this document is to discuss the current evidence regarding hepatitis C virus in pregnancy and to provide recommendations on screening, treatment, and management of this disease during pregnancy. The following are Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommendations: (1) We recommend that obstetric care providers screen women who are at increased risk for hepatitis C infection by testing for anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies at their first prenatal visit. If initial results are negative, hepatitis C screening should be repeated later in pregnancy in women with persistent or new risk factors for hepatitis C infection (eg, new or ongoing use of injected or intranasal illicit drugs) (GRADE 1B). (2) We recommend that obstetric care providers screen hepatitis C virus–positive pregnant women for other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis B virus (GRADE 1B). (3) We suggest that patients with hepatitis C virus, including pregnant women, be counseled to abstain from alcohol (Best Practice). (4) We recommend that direct-acting antiviral regimens only be used in the setting of a clinical trial or that antiviral treatment be deferred to the postpartum period as direct-acting antiviral regimens are not currently approved for use in pregnancy (GRADE 1C). (5) We suggest that if invasive prenatal diagnostic testing is requested, women be counseled that data on the risk of vertical transmission are reassuring but limited; amniocentesis is recommended over chorionic villus sampling given the lack of data on the latter (GRADE 2C). (6) We recommend against cesarean delivery solely for the indication of hepatitis C virus (GRADE 1B). (7) We recommend that obstetric care providers avoid internal fetal monitoring, prolonged rupture of membranes, and episiotomy in managing labor in hepatitis C virus–positive women (GRADE 1B). (8) We recommend that providers not discourage breast-feeding based on a positive hepatitis C virus infection status (GRADE 1A).

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