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J Infect Dis. 2005 Dec 1;192(11):1872-9. Epub 2005 Oct 28.

A significant sex--but not elective cesarean section--effect on mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C virus infection.



Risk factors for mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) are poorly quantified.


We conducted a European multicenter prospective study of HCV-infected pregnant women and their infants. Children with > or =2 positive HCV RNA polymerase chain reaction test results and/or anti-HCV antibodies after 18 months of age were considered to be infected.


The overall HCV vertical transmission rate was 6.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.0%-7.5%; 91/1479). Girls were twice as likely to be infected as boys (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.07 [95% CI, 1.23-3.48]; P=.006). There was no protective effect of elective cesarean section (CS) delivery on HCV vertical transmission (adjusted OR, 1.46 [95% CI, 0.86-2.48]; P=.16). HCV/human immunodeficiency virus-coinfected women more frequently transmitted HCV than did women with HCV infection only, although the difference was not statistically significant (adjusted OR, 1.82 [95% CI, 0.94-3.52]; P=.08). Maternal history of injection drug use, prematurity, and breast-feeding were not significantly associated with transmission. Transmission occurred more frequently from viremic women, but it also occurred from a few nonviremic women.


Our results strongly suggest that women should neither be offered an elective CS nor be discouraged from breast-feeding on the basis of HCV infection alone. The sex association is an intriguing finding that probably reflects biological differences in susceptibility or response to infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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