Mother to child transmission of Hepatitis C Virus in a province of Northern Italy


NTRODUCTION: Study reports of mother to child transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have shown transmission rates ranging from 3 to 37%, according to maternal viremia and HIV-1 coinfection. The present study evaluated the prevalence of the HCV infection in the general population and the incidence of vertical transmission, from women who delivered in the Obstetric Clinic of the Hospital of Parma from January 1st 1996 to 31st 2001 December. METHODS: Mothers and children were tested for the presence of HCV-RNA within one week after delivery. Children were considered to be infected when they were found positive at least twice for viral RNA or antibodies were still detectable at the end of the follow-up period (18 months) in blood. RESULTS: Out of 13,025 women, 110 (0.8%) were found positive for anti-HCV antibodies; 72 of them (65.4%) were HCV-RNA positive. All 110 children were positive for anti-HCV antibodies in the first blood sample (time 0); 8 of them were HCV-RNA positive. Three children were still viremic at the end of the follow-up whereas 5 showed a clearance. No significant differences were found between viremic and nonviremic children with respect to gestational week, maternal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels and newborns weight at birth. CONCLUSION: This investigation shows that vertical transmission may occur in a general obstetric population despite a low prevalence of HCV-positive subjects.