Mother to baby

Transmission of the hepatitis C virus from an infected mother to her unborn child is uncommon and only happens at the time of birth. The risk of transmission from mother to child is thought to be approximately 2-8%. If a mother is also infected with HIV then the risk of passing on hepatitis C to the baby is higher.

Hepatitis C has not been found to cause problems during pregnancy.

Breast feeding is considered safe since there is no proof that breast feeding can transmit hepatitis C – but it is recommended that if a woman’s nipples are cracked and bleeding, she doesn’t breast feed her baby until the nipples are healed.

If you are infected by the hepatitis C virus, the usual amount of time before testing the baby is 18 months. This is because the baby will automatically get the mother’s antibodies and it takes this long before the baby’s body is able to clear out the mother’s antibodies.

If you are pregnant or planning to have a child and are hepatitis C positive, it is important to discuss the transmission risk with your consultant. Some medical providers will advise treatment of the woman’s hepatitis C before having a child.

Hepatitis C should have a minimal effect on you caring for your baby. You can wash them, cook for them, you should feel comfortable doing everything a parent wants to do for their child.