Infants exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) in utero are not being screened, leaving many pediatric infections undetected, according to a new study from researchers at Magee-Womens Research Institute.  (However, in Canada, screening of pregnant women was recommended by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) in April 2017).

The rate of HCV infection among pregnant women has increased in recent years, due partly to the opioid epidemic. This has led to an elevated risk for perinatal transmission and HCV infection among children. The study at Magee-Womens Research Institute, of the University of Pittsburgh, sought to determine the prevalence of HCV among pregnant women and the frequency of pediatric screening for HCV (Pediatrics 2018 May e20173273).

“Without appropriate screening, children at risk for perinatal transmission may remain undiagnosed until the child becomes symptomatic or has abnormal liver enzyme testing found incidentally,” said lead author Catherine Chappell, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. “Delays in diagnosis could lead to delays in appropriate referrals and curative treatment, or even irreversible liver disease, such as cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma.”

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