Protecting Infants through Human Milk

Volume 554 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 211-216

Mother-to-Infant Hepatitis C Virus Transmission and Breastfeeding

  • Eric E. MastAffiliated withDivision of Viral Hepatitis, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that is transmitted most efficiently by direct percutaneous exposures to blood. Infants are at risk of HCV infection primarily as a result of transmission from their infected mothers. However, there is no evidence of mother-to-infant transmission from breastfeeding. According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, maternal HCV infection is not a contraindication to breastfeeding. It may be prudent for mothers who are HCV-infected and who choose to breastfeed to consider abstaining from breastfeeding if their nipples are cracked and bleeding.