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Swiss Med Wkly. 2007 Jan 13;137(1-2):27-32.

Hepatitis C in a sample of pregnant women in Switzerland: seroprevalence and socio-demographic factors.

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  • 1Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Finkenhubelweg 11, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

PRINCIPLES:

The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of hepatitis C (HCV) infection in a sample of pregnant women living in Switzerland in 1990-1991, in order to complement existing data in various populations.

METHODS:

Blood samples were collected from women from consecutive births in obstetric wards in public hospitals of 23 Swiss cantons over a one-year period. They were tested, among other things, for the presence of hepatitis C virus antibodies (anti-HCV). Statistical analyses were done to explore the association of demographic variables with anti-HCV.

RESULTS:

The study included a total of 9,057 women of whom 64 tested positive for anti-HCV, resulting in a crude prevalence of 0.71%. Prevalence varied by age and was highest in the 25-29-year age-group (0.90%). 43/5,685 Swiss women were HCV seropositive (0.76%) compared with 21/3,372 non-Swiss women (0.62%). Stratified analysis showed a significant association between anti-HCV and anti-HBc antibody positivity in Swiss (adjusted OR [aOR] 23, 95% CI 12-43) and non-Swiss nationals (aOR 3.3, 95% CI 1.3-8.3).

CONCLUSIONS:

The prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies in the early 1990s was <1% in this sample of pregnant women in Switzerland and was associated with age, nationality and the presence of anti-HBc antibodies, a marker of exposure to hepatitis B virus. These results are in accordance with those from other published European studies. If an effective intervention to prevent vertical transmission becomes available, information on the current prevalence of HCV in pregnant women would be needed in order to assess how screening recommendations should be modified.

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