Hepatitis C and Pregnancy
Hepatitis C is inflammation or swelling of the liver that is caused by a virus. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are several types of hepatitis that are caused by specific viruses. Autoimmune hepatitis is not caused by a virus. In this type of hepatitis, the body’s own immune system becomes confused and attacks the liver. Hepatitis C transmission is a possibility for anyone whose blood has come in direct contact with the blood of an infected person. People who have ever been on dialysis, received an organ transplant or blood transfusion prior to 1992, received a clotting factor made before 1987, have worked or come in contact with infected needles or blood, have had unprotected sex, have tattoos or piercings, and babies born to a hepatitis C infected mother are among those at greater risk for developing this disease. 15 to 40 percent of people with acute hepatitis c will fully recover within six months after being exposed. Sixty to eighty-five percent will have chronic hepatitis C.
Regardless of whether it is chronic or acute hepatitis, most people will have no symptoms. If they do have signs of hepatitis C, they might experience tiredness, itchy skin, dark urine, muscle soreness, nausea, loss of appetite, stomach pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
Hepatitis C and pregnancy calls for extra cautions. In cases of hepatitis C and pregnancy, the expectant mother should be encouraged to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. She should avoid alcohol. In hepatitis C and pregnancy the mother-to-be should also avoid drugs that affect the liver such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). In hepatitis C and pregnancy, the infant’s pediatrician should be informed about the mother’s hepatitis C status. It is recommended in cases of hepatitis C and pregnancy, that the mother’s liver enzymes be checked at the beginning of the pregnancy and then as the doctor deems necessary.