Outcome of infants born to hepatitis C infected women
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be transmitted vertically from mother to infant, either late in pregnancy or at delivery.
To determine the outcome of infants bom to HCV infected women, to characterise epidemiology and to design an appropriate infant monitoring schedule.
Three hundred and fourteen infants, born to 296 HCV positive women between 1994 and 1999 were monitored for a median of 18 months (range 1–52).
Forty per cent of infants were small for age and 46% had neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Of 173 infants of delned status, 11 were infected (vertical transmission rate [VTR] 6.4%, 95% CI 2.8–10). Infected infants were diagnosed at a median of three months (range 0.5–10). Liver transaminases elevation was documented in 8% of uninfected infants. A negative HCV PCR test before one month of age did not exclude infection but all infected patients had detectable HCV RNA when next tested (range 2–10 months).
94% of infants bom to HCV antibody positive women are not HIV infected. Liver transaminase elevation in exposed infants is not always indicative of infection. A minimum monitoring schedule of testing (PCR and antibody) at six to eight weeks, six and 18 months allows early diagnosis while detecting late seroconversions.
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