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Hepatitis C and Your New Baby

Hepatitis C and Your New Baby

When a pregnant woman has hepatitis C she can pass it on to her baby. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about what this means for your newborn.

What are the chances that my baby has hepatitis C?

About 5% of babies born to mothers with hepatitis C will get the infection from their mother. This happens during pregnancy and the birthing process. If a mother has another infection such as hepatitis B or HIV, the chances of her baby developing an infection with hepatitis C goes up to about 10-15%.

If you have not been tested for hepatitis B or HIV, please ask your doctor to be tested.

How do I know if my baby has hepatitis C?

Babies that get hepatitis C from their mothers are healthy at birth and look no different than another baby. A blood test needs to be done when your baby is 18 months of age to see if they have hepatitis C. Your baby’s doctor can order testing.

What do I do if my baby’s test for hepatitis C at 18 months is positive?

Your baby will need to be seen by a specialist to talk about treatment. Treatment is important because the virus can cause problems over time, which can be severe.

Can I breastfeed my baby?

Absolutely! We encourage you to breastfeed your baby. Despite having hepatitis C, it is safe for you to breastfeed your infant and will not increase the chances of your baby getting hepatitis C. However, if you have any bleeding from your nipples, do not breastfeed your baby until the bleeding has stopped and your nipples have healed.

To keep your milk supply up, pump your breasts at each feeding, but do not save your milk or feed it to your baby until your nipples are healed.

Is there anything I need to do differently for my baby?

Your baby should have all of his or her routine shots, including shots for hepatitis B and hepatitis A to help prevent other infections that can make your baby sick. Hepatitis C is spread mainly by contact with infected blood.

Even if your baby has hepatitis C, it is very unlikely that your baby could spread the infection to others.

Is there anything I need to do for myself?

It is important that you seek treatment for your hepatitis C infection. Please ask your doctor how to go about getting treatment.

Last Updated 06/2019