Study shows higher prevalence of hepatitis C in pregnant women

The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is relatively high in pregnant women, and although mother-to-child/vertical transmission (MTCT) is generally a less common route of HCV, it has been identified as a cause of hepatitis C in children. main reason. A recent study was published in eClincalMedicine in The Lancet Discovery Science.

HCV infection poses a global health challenge, affecting millions of people each year.

In 2019, the global HCV burden exceeded 58 million people, with 14.9 million infections among women aged 15 to 49 years.

The virus is spread primarily through infected blood transfusions, therapeutic injections, intravenous injection of drugs or blood products, sexual transmission, and mother-to-child transmission.

In particular, approximately 5.8% of pregnant women with HCV will pass the virus to their babies, and this rises to 10.8% if pregnant women are infected with both HCV and HIV.

To track progress towards the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating HCV by 2030, a better understanding of the knowledge behind the relationship between HCV and pregnant women is critical.

In this study, researchers conducted a systematic review of nearly 200 observational studies collected from the PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Embase, Scopus, and SciELO databases between January 1, 2000, and April 1, 2023. and meta-analysis.

The researchers conducted sensitivity analyzes to examine how four particularly large studies affected overall global prevalence. They also explored the association between potential risk factors and HCV positivity in pregnant women using subgroup and meta-regression analyses.

Among 192 eligible studies involving 148,509,760 pregnant women from 53 countries, maternal HCV prevalence was 1.80% (95% CI, 1.72-1.89%) and 3.29% (3.01-3.57%).

Data show that the Eastern Mediterranean region has the highest prevalence at 6.21% (4.39-8.29%), while the Western Pacific region has the lowest prevalence at 0.75% (0.38-1.22%).

Study results also showed that compared with the general population (1.08%), pregnant women with opioid use disorder (51.94%, 95% CI: 37.32–66.39) and HIV infection (4.34%, 95% CI: 2.21–7.06%) HCV prevalence was higher, 95% CI: 1.02–1.15%).

A decreasing trend in viral prevalence was also found with increasing levels of human development index and various risk factors such as older age, lower education, sexual activity, history of medical procedures and positive hepatitis B test.

The study revealed the major burden of HCV exposure among pregnant women, with the number of cases ranging from 2.2 to 5.3 million.

However, the researchers said estimates may differ from current prevalence rates due to differences between studies.

These findings underscore the importance of expanding HCV screening among women at risk of becoming pregnant, particularly during pregnancy, especially in countries with higher prevalence.

The researchers suggest that more research is needed on the safety of existing treatments during pregnancy, and that medications may be developed specifically for pregnant women.

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