Hepatitis C Testing During Pregnancy

Are you screening for Hepatitis C at each pregnancy?

Hepatitis C is a liver disease on the rise in pregnant people. It that can affect you and your baby while you are pregnant. About 1 in 20 people with hepatitis C will pass the virus to their baby during pregnancy.

Hepatitis C testing is required for all pregnant people as part of prenatal care to ensure you and your baby receive the care you need during pregnancy, delivery and after birth. Results are confidential.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. Most people with hepatitis C have no symptoms and don't know they have it. Left untreated, hepatitis C can cause liver damage and serious health problems. However, hepatitis C can be treated and cured.

The hepatitis C virus can be spread through contact with the blood of someone who has hepatitis C. This happens most often when sharing equipment for injecting drugs. Hepatitis C can also be passed from a pregnant person to their baby during pregnancy.

Hepatitis C is on the rise in pregnant people. Hepatitis C can cause problems during pregnancy. If you have hepatitis C, the virus can be passed to your baby during pregnancy. Hepatitis C testing during each pregnancy helps make sure you get the medical care you and your baby need to be healthy while you are pregnant and after birth.

Health care providers in New York State must order a hepatitis C test for all pregnant people as part of prenatal care. Hepatitis C testing can be done at any time during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider to be sure hepatitis C testing is part of your prenatal blood work

Everyone 18 years and older should be tested for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime. If you share equipment with a partner for preparing or injecting drugs, talk with them about being tested for hepatitis C again.

Most people who have hepatitis C can be cured with 8 to 12 weeks of treatment. Treatment is easy to take, and it has few or no side effects. Studies are ongoing to assess the safety of treatment during pregnancy. Talk with your health care provider about the potential risks and benefits of treatment to plan when to start treatment.

No. People with hepatitis C can have a vaginal delivery. Hepatitis C alone is not a reason for Cesarean delivery.

Hepatitis C is not found in breast milk. You can safely breastfeed your baby even if you have hepatitis C. However, little is known about breastfeeding while taking hepatitis C medication. Avoid breastfeeding if you are taking hepatitis C treatment. Talk to your health care provider about postponing hepatitis C treatment until you stop breastfeeding your baby.

Hepatitis C is found in your blood. Therefore, if your nipple becomes cracked or bleeds, stop breastfeeding with that breast while it heals. Speak with a lactation consultant about a plan to maintain your milk supply. You can continue to breastfeed using the unaffected breast.

If you have hepatitis C, it's possible that your baby will be born with the virus too. Tell your baby’s pediatrician you had hepatitis C while pregnant, so they will get your baby the testing and follow-up care they need. Testing is the only way to know if your baby has hepatitis C. Your baby will need a blood test, the hepatitis C RNA test, to check if they have the virus. This can be done between the ages of 2 to 6 months during a well-child visit.

If your baby has hepatitis C, they should see a pediatrician for regular checkups and vaccinations. Your baby can be treated and cured for hepatitis C when they reach 3 years of age. Hepatitis C is not spread by close contact, like kissing and hugging. Children with hepatitis C can play with other children and go to daycare or school.

More Resources on Hepatitis C and Pregnancy