Hepatitis C and Pregnancy
Last updated: March 2022
Starting a family is such an exciting time! And while most of us imagine a dreamy pregnancy with few complications, the reality is some of us will hit a few bumps in the road.
Hepatitis C may be one of those bumps.
The rate of young adults being diagnosed with hepatitis C is growing. In 2018, over half of the new diagnoses were adults under 39 years of age1.
That means young women, ready to start families, could also be fighting off a viral infection at the same time.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends pregnant women be tested for hepatitis C with every pregnancy on their first round of routine obstetrics blood work. This is in addition to the recommendation that every adult be tested at least once in their lifetime.
That means you may find out about your hepatitis C diagnosis shortly after you find out you’re expecting. If so, you may have a number of questions.
Can hepatitis C cause problems in pregnancy?
Overall, the course of a pregnancy does not appear to be impacted by hepatitis C2. The rate of pregnancy loss and infant birth weight in infected women is not much different than in the women without hepatitis C2.
Additionally, pregnancy does not seem to cause hepatitis C to worsen, either2.
Can hepatitis C be treated while pregnant?
At this time, there are no hepatitis C treatments approved by the FDA to be used during pregnancy. Treatments are also not approved during breastfeeding3.
That means you’ll need to wait until after delivery, and after you stop breastfeeding, to get hepatitis care. In some cases, your obstetrician may be different than your primary care provider.
You may need to inform your primary care provider about your diagnosis after delivery, so hepatitis care is not delayed or missed.
Can I transfer hepatitis C to my baby?
While it’s possible to transfer hepatitis C to your baby, the risk is low. It’s estimated that less than 10% of babies born to mothers with hepatitis C will be infected with the virus4.
Certain factors, such as having HIV in addition to hepatitis C, can increase the risk your baby becomes infected. There are no steps you can take to prevent your body from passing the virus onto your baby4.
But you can be proactive. Tell your infant’s pediatrician you had hepatitis C during pregnancy.
That way they can test your little one for the virus and provide continued medical care for them if they have it.
Can I breastfeed my baby while infected?
Yes, you can breastfeed your baby if you’re infected with hepatitis C. You cannot breastfeed if you’re receiving treatment for the virus, however5.
If you’re not pregnant now but are ready to start a family, testing for hepatitis C before trying is considered ideal. That way hepatitis C can be treated before your pregnancy.
If testing and treating before pregnancy is not possible, it’s important to know that, overall, it’s possible to have an uncomplicated pregnancy with hepatitis C5.