If a Woman has Hepatitis C Can She Have a Baby?

If a woman has Hepatitis C virus, also know as HCV, this will not prevent her for becoming pregnant. But there are issues to consider if a woman knows she has hepatitis and wants to have a child. A pregnancy will not adversely affect the health of a woman with HCV but it may put any more strain on the woman's liver. So it is very important to regularly check liver function, by the use of a simple blood test, throughout the pregnancy.

If the levels of infection in the bloodstream are very low then it is likely safe for her to get pregnant and not worry about transmission to the baby. But, if her levels are high, if she is already showing signs of liver damage, then there definitely is the possibility that she will transfer the infection to her child.  If a woman has high levels then there is a five to eight percent possibility of transmitting the Hepatitis C virus. Its much higher if the mother is also suffering from AIDS.

Doctors are not certain at what point the infection is given to the baby. They don't know if it's while in the womb or during the delivery. But they are reasonably certain it is not during conception. But breastfeeding is something that needs to be thought of carefully if a woman has the Hepatitis C virus. First, it should only be considered if the woman shows no signs of the infection. Second she should not breastfeed if she notices that her nipples have become cracked or are bleeding. This could pass the infection on to her baby especially if the baby has a cut anywhere in their mouth. 

It is difficult to determine directly after the birth if the baby is infected. In fact it can take several months before an answer is available. This is because the baby will have antibodies from the mother which make it appear that they are infected until they are between fifteen and eighteen months old when they disappear on their own. At this point testing can be done. Doctors and researchers are still trying to determine if a child is infected as a baby what the long-term results might be. Often even if infected the child will remain healthy in appearance and attitude for many years.

For certain treatments the doctors will set specific terms that must be agreed upon. For example, if a woman is about to begin a treatment period she must agree that both she and her partner will both use contraceptives during the entire treatment and for the six months afterwards in view of the fact that the medications are known to cause birth defects. The two drugs commonly used are interferon and ribavirin; it is the latter that can cause the defects.

Woman should know that having Hepatitis C does not stop them from being mothers and doing the things that are so much a part of motherhood like kissing and cuddling their children.

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