Screening for Hep C in Pregnancy

"I’m pregnant. Why did my doctor do a hep C test?"

As of May 2021, there’s a new recommendation to check all women in early pregnancy for hep C. What’s this about? In the US, the number of people diagnosed with hep C has more than doubled since 2012. Hep C is becoming more common, especially in people aged 20 to 40; That is, people who are most likely to become pregnant.1,2 Many people with hep C don’t know they have the infection. Because hep C can affect pregnancy, it’s helpful to know about it as early as possible.

Why is it good to know if I have hep C during pregnancy? Will I be ok?

Hep C can affect the health of both mom and baby in pregnancy. Knowing your hep C status during pregnancy can help your care team give you the best advice about your pregnancy care.

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At this time, there is not much information about the safety of antiviral medications in pregnancy. So people don’t usually take treatment while pregnant. And pregnancy does not make hep C worse. But there are other changes in care to make the pregnancy safer.3

Some pregnancy problems are more common in people with hep C, like gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy), and preeclampsia (a blood pressure problem of pregnancy). Your team can watch you closely for these.3,4

Will my baby be ok?

Hep C can be sometimes be shared from a woman to her baby. This doesn’t happen often - only about 6% of the time. There isn’t a treatment that can be used during pregnancy to prevent this. But certain procedures may increase the chance and your doctor or midwife will know to avoid these.

Babies are more likely to be born early and to need hospital care after birth. Your team will watch for signs of these problems and be ready to manage them. And the pediatricians can check the baby for hep C, too. This helps the baby get the right care after birth.3

When can I get treated?

When you find out you have hep C, you’ll see a specialist. You can check in with that doctor after you give birth to talk about when and how to start treatment. The status of hep C can change during pregnancy, so your doctor may recommend testing for hep C both before and after pregnancy.3

Learning that you have hep C in pregnancy can bring up a lot of questions. Knowing your hep C status gives you and your care team important information to help you and your baby be as safe as possible. And the bottom line is, most women with hep C have healthy pregnancies.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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