Hepatitis C during pregnancy can be transmitted to the baby at the time of delivery, if it is a vaginal birth, however it is very rare for this to happen. Although, ideally women who wish to become pregnant should speak with their doctors so that they can carry out the necessary tests, so that they can have a risk-free pregnancy.
In addition, the doctor can advise the pregnant woman to take greater care with food to try to strengthen her immune system so that the viral load in the blood decreases and the risk of transmission to the baby is even lower. See what you can eat to help achieve this objective.
What tests should the mother do
Prenatal care should begin about 6 months before you become pregnant and should be done by a physician experienced in following up with pregnant women with hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. The physician should evaluate your medical history and obstetric history and should perform a thorough physical examination to know the stage of the disease and to see if there are signs and symptoms of liver failure.
The physician should also advise against taking medication that can be toxic to the liver, even if they are natural, it is also important you control your weight and not share toothbrushes, blades or other hygiene products that may have blood and risk of sexual transmission, even though it is low.
Women with hepatitis C virus infection should also be immunized against hepatitis A and B and should discontinue treatment with interferon and ribavirin for at least 6 months before attempting to conceive due to the teratogenicity of ribavirin. Women with chronic hepatitis C usually have a problem-free pregnancy as long as the liver disease is stable and has not progressed to cirrhosis.
In addition to the usual assessment of pregnancy, some specific tests, such as transaminase measurement, albumin, bilirubin, coagulation study, anti-Hepatitis B antibody, total anti-Hepatitis A antibody and PCR for hepatitis B virus. During the course of pregnancy, liver function tests should be performed every trimester.
Treatment for hepatitis C during pregnancy
There is no safe treatment for hepatitis C virus infection during pregnancy. Treatment with medication such as interferon and ribavirin can not be performed during pregnancy or in the 6 months before pregnancy.
How to know if the baby is infected
Normally the test results are negative in the first months of life due to the antibodies that the baby received from the mother and therefore, between 15 and 24 months of age the pediatrician can request tests to check if the baby has been infected. ALT levels are higher in the first 2 years of life and decrease over time until they can rise again in their 20s and 30s.
Babies infected with the hepatitis C virus usually have no symptoms and develop normally but have a higher risk of complications in the liver during adult life and therefore should perform blood tests regularly to assess liver function, so to help avoid liver disease they should decrease the consumption of alcoholic beverages throughout their lives
Is breastfeeding possible if you have hepatitis C?
There are no contraindications to breastfeeding, except in situations of HIV co-infection. However, if the nipples are cracked and release blood, care must be taken because in these cases there is a risk of contamination, so nipple integrity should be promoted.