The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was studied prospectively in pregnant women in France and their children by detection of anti-HCV with second-generation ELISA (ELISA2). In ELISA2-positive women, anti-HCV was detected with second- and third-generation RIBA (RIBA2 and RIBA3) and serum HCV RNA was detected with PCR. Among 670 women, anti-HIV1-negative, 26 (3.9%) were positive with ELISA2. RIBA2 was positive in 13 and HCV RNA was found in 10. Ten ELISA2-positive women had a further evaluation with assessment of HCV infection in their children. Among the 10 children born to the index pregnancy, only one was positive with ELISA2 and RIBA2 but negative with RIBA3 and PCR; the nine other children were ELISA2, RIBA2, RIBA3, and PCR negative. All 26 siblings (2–16 years old), of whom 14 were born to PCR-positive mothers, were ELISA2 and RIBA2 negative. We conclude that among anti-HIV1-negative pregnant women with normal serum ALT levels, the prevalence of HCV infection is relatively high but the risk for mother-to-infant transmission of HCV seems to be low.
anti-HCV hepatitis C virus polymerase chain reaction mother-to-infant transmission epidemiology