Hepatitis C and Pregnancy
Last updated: September 2019
Both women and men have concerns regarding hepatitis C and being able to have children and have a healthy pregnancy. Here are common questions and concerns about hepatitis C and pregnancy we hear from patients.
"I have hepatitis C... Will I be able to have children once I’m cured?"
Typically, once you are done with treatment and cured from hepatitis C, there is no problem with passing hepatitis C onto a baby. However, be sure to talk to your physician and let them know of your hepatitis C and treatment results. It is best to see a liver specialist like a hepatologist or gastroenterologist if you have hepatitis C and think you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant after hepatitis C treatment. Talk to your physician about your liver condition and pregnancy.
"I’m pregnant. Can I do treatment for hepatitis C now, or would this be unsafe for the baby?"
If you are pregnant and have hepatitis C, you need to inform your obstetrician that you have hepatitis C. You also need to be seen by a liver specialist like a hepatologist or gastroenterologist. If you are pregnant and have hepatitis C, it is recommended that you wait until after you deliver your baby before doing treatment since treatment has a high risk of harming the baby.
"I’m concerned about passing hepatitis C to my unborn child during pregnancy... What is the risk?"
There is a risk, but it is considered low. The risk of transmitting hepatitis C to the baby during pregnancy is about 5%.1
For women with HIV and hep C, the risk of transmitting hep C to the unborn baby is 25% higher.2
Even after being cured of hep C, you will always test positive for the hep C antibodies since you’ve had it. It’s best to let the baby’s pediatrician know that you’ve had hepatitis C.
Often, the baby will carry the mother's antibodies for a short while. The baby will need to be tested for hepatitis C to rule it out.
"Will I be able to breastfeed my baby if I’ve had hepatitis C but have finished treatment?"
It is best to discuss breastfeeding with your physician before the baby is born. Typically, the hepatitis C virus is not transmitted through breastfeeding. But women who have bleeding or cracked nipples are advised to stop breastfeeding until there is healing and no bleeding. Before resuming breastfeeding, it is recommended to be examined by your physician.
"Will having hepatitis C affect my sperm count and ability to have children?"
There are some studies that state men with hepatitis C have decreased sperm count. However, this does not mean you cannot get a woman pregnant or be able to have children. Once you have completed treatment for hepatitis C and been cured, your sperm count may increase. It is best to consult with your liver specialist and ask if tests are needed.
"If the father has hepatitis C but the mother does not, is there a danger of the baby becoming infected?"
The father cannot pass hepatitis C to directly to the baby through pregnancy. There is always a risk of the mother becoming infected by the father through sex, but if this were the case, there is still a low risk of the baby becoming infected.
It is best to consult with your liver specialist, gynecologist, and/or obstetrician before getting pregnant or if you know you are pregnant.