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Can My Baby Get Hepatitis C?

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Updated July 14, 2009

Question: Can My Baby Get Hepatitis C?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to spread hepatitis C to your baby. This type of exposure is called "vertical transmission" and is most serious with hepatitis B and hepatitis E. According to the CDC, though, out of 100 infants born to Mothers infected with the hepatitis C virus, four will be born infected. So, it can happen, but it is relatively rare, with the risk of transmission being less than 5%. The risk of spreading hepatitis C to the baby increases if the mother is co-infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Currently, there is no treatment to prevent spreading the hepatitis virus to newborns, but studies show that they do very well in their first years of life. Also, it is considered safe for infected mothers to breastfeed their babies, although women who are HCV infected and find themselves with cracked or bleeding nipples should abstain from breastfeeding until this is resolved.

Source:

Viral Hepatitis C. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. March 7, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/NCIDOD/DISEASES/HEPATITIS/c/faq.htm#s2

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