Hepatitis C-Exposed Infants Not Adequately Screened

Low screening rate seen at same time as increase in hepatitis C virus prevalence among pregnant women.
Low screening rate seen at same time as increase in hepatitis C virus prevalence among pregnant women.

HealthDay News — Many infants who are exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) during pregnancy are not screened for HCV infection, according to a study published online May 2 in Pediatrics.

Catherine A. Chappell, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues identified and classified pregnant women who delivered between 2006 and 2014 as HCV-infected or HCV-uninfected based on billing codes. Linked infant records were identified and evaluated for HCV tests and the receipt of well-child services at or after 9 months of age. 

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The researchers found that over the study period, 1,043 pregnant women who delivered (1.2%) were HCV-infected, and HCV prevalence increased by 60%. HCV-infected women were more likely to be <30 years of age (67 vs 53%), be white (93 vs 72%), be insured by Medicaid (77 vs 29%), and have opiate use disorder (68 vs 1%) compared with HCV-uninfected women. The infants of HCV-infected women were more likely to be preterm (22 vs 10%) and of low birth weight (23 vs 8%). Fewer than one-third of the 1,025 HCV-exposed infants with available pediatric records received well-child services (31%), with only 30% of these infants screened for HCV.

"Despite the increased HCV prevalence among pregnant women and the risk of perinatal HCV transmission, HCV-exposed infants are not adequately screened, and many pediatric HCV infections remain undetected," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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