Reuters Health Information (2005-03-11): Mother to child HCV transmission often occurs in utero
Mother to child HCV transmission often occurs in utero
Last Updated: 2005-03-11 15:55:43 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In up to one half of cases,
mother to child transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) occurs in
utero, according to UK researchers. In the remaining cases, infection
seems to occur during delivery with little evidence of postpartum
"Knowing when mother to child transmission of HCV occurs is
important for developing strategies to prevent the problem,"
investigator Dr. L. Pembrey, from University College London, told
The study involved 54 vertically exposed children with HCV infection
who had had an HCV PCR test performed in the first 3 days of life. The
researchers' findings appear in the March issue of the Archives of
Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition.
Seventeen subjects (31%) had a positive PCR test in the first 3 days
of life, suggesting that HCV transmission occurred in utero.
Twenty-seven children (50%) first tested positively at 3 months,
indicating that transmission either occurred late in pregnancy or
during delivery. The timing of transmission for the remaining nine
children was unclear, but did not seem to occur postpartum through
Mode of delivery and infant gender were not associated with PCR
positivity in the first 3 days of life. By contrast, lower birth weight
and infection with genotype 1 were linked to early positivity.
The researchers note that maternal treatment using interferon alpha
and ribavirin to lower viral load and thus the risk of vertical
transmission is not possible. These agents are contraindicated during
Should effective treatment become available, they add, "it would
need to be initiated early in pregnancy" because of the high rate of in
Arch Dis Child 2005;90:F156-F160.