, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 37-39

Mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis E virus infection

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Objectives : Water borne or enterically transmitted non-A-non-B hepatitis is a major public health problem in India. Many of these cases carry fatal outcome. The hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been considered to be the most important causative agent of this entity. The severity and fatality rates of HEV infection are reported to be rather more in pregnant women. However, there is meager information from India, on mother to child transmission of this agent.Methods : During 1997-98, we studied 60 pregnant women suspected to have acute viral hepatitis to understand the frequency of various viral etiologies, disease course and outcome of the pregnancy. Six cord blood samples were tested for IgG, and IgM antibodies against hepatropic viral agents and also for hepatitis E virus RNA by RT-nested PCR using ORF-1 as target.Results : Of the 60 pregnant patients hospitalised at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi for acute hepatitis, 22 (37%) were positive for IgM anti-HEV antibodies and 10% were infected with hepatitis B virus. Co-infection of HEV with Hepatitis B and C was seen in 1 and 2 patients, respectively. Most (72%) of the HEV infected patients were in third trimester of pregnancy (P<0.05). Of the 6 cord blood samples tested 3 (50%) were positive for HEV RNA. Though, all mothers were RNA positive, half of the babies did not get infectedin utero with HEV. Fourteen of the 22 (63.6%) HEV infected mothers developed fulminant hepatic failure and all died.Conclusion : The mortality rate in HIV infected mothers was 100%. Mother to child transmission of hepatitis E virus infection was established in 50%