The increased reported incidence of HCV infection among persons aged ≤39 years indicates there may be an increase in the number of pregnant women with HCV infection and more infants who might be exposed to HCV at birth.1 However, current HCV screening recommendations for women of childbearing age are limited to those identified to be at high risk. The chronic and mostly asymptomatic nature of HCV, as well as the challenges in identifying pregnant women at high risk for screening, makes determining the number of pregnant women infected with HCV difficult. Thus, linking them to care and identifying their HCV-exposed infants is also difficult.
Risk-based screening among pregnant women might not identify all cases since some women may not report their risk factors and some providers may not ask about risk. CDC does recommend HCV screening of infants born to HCV-infected women. Follow-up of this group to provide care and determine if the infant has hepatitis C can be challenging. Additionally, recommendations on testing guidelines for this infant group are not clear or consistent in terms of which test (antibody or RNA) and timing of the test.
No recommended curative treatments are available for pregnant women or young children, but curative treatments are available to older children and women who are not pregnant.
The natural history of HCV infection passed from mother to infant is not well- understood and needs additional study.