▪ Objective: To describe the rate of perinatal transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV).
▪ Design: Follow-up study of newborn children of mothers with chronic HCV infection.
▪ Setting: A university hospital in Sweden.
▪ Participants: Fourteen women with chronic HCV infection and their 21 newly born children.
▪ Main Outcome Measures: Detection of HCV RNA in serum by the polymerase chain reaction and detection of anti-HCV antibody by second generation assays.
▪ Results: All mothers were found to be positive for anti-HCV antibody both by second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and by second-generation recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA-2); all also had detectable serum HCV RNA. Two children had long-lasting alanine aminotransferase (ALT) elevations, and one of them became HCV RNA positive. None of the other children developed biochemical hepatitis. However, two additional children had temporary viremia. Only the child with biochemical and biopsy-proven hepatitis and detectable HCV RNA in multiple blood samples actively produced anti-HCV antibody.
▪ Conclusions: Mother-to-infant transmission of HCV infection from chronically infected women without human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection seems to be uncommon.