Is hepatitis C on the rise in pregnant women?
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of hepatitis C is on the rise in the United States among women giving birth.
Investigators used US birth certificate data to examine trends and geographic differences in the rates of hepatitis C infection among women who gave birth between 2009 and 2014. They used Tennessee birth certificates to examine individual characteristics and outcomes linked with a hepatitis C infection and a multivariable model to calculated adjusted odds. The data were collected from the National Vital Statistics System and Tennessee Department of Health vital records.
During the study period, presence of a hepatitis C infection at time of delivery from states reporting such infections on birth certificates increased by 89%, from 1.8 to 3.4 per 1000 live births. The highest infection rate in 2014 was found in West Virginia, at 22.6 per 1000 live births, while Hawaii had the lowest rate at 0.7 per 1000 live births. In the adjusted analyses of Tennessee births, where the rate is 10.1 per 1000 live births, the odds of having a hepatitis C infection were roughly 3-fold higher among women who lived in rural counties than in those who lived in urban counties. In women who smoked cigarettes while pregnant, the odds of an infection were 4.5-fold higher, and among women who had a concurrent hepatitis B infection, the odds were 17-fold higher.
The implications for public health practice from these data are that screening for hepatitis C in women who are of childbearing age and providing treatment may help reduce perinatal transmission of the disease. Monitoring infants who are exposed to hepatitis C also could aid in identifying these infections.