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Eur J Pediatr. 1995 Dec;154(12):973-8.

Mother-to-infant transmission of hepatitis C virus: a prospective study.

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Department of Paediatrics, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Japan.


To investigate the risk of mother-to-infant transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the natural course of HCV-infected infants, we prospectively studied 31 offspring of pregnant women who were anti-HCV positive and anti-HIV negative. Sera were serially tested for anti-HCV by the second-generation ELISA-test (ELISA-2) and for HCV-RNA by the polymerase chain reaction procedure. The mean period of follow up was 19 months (range 6-41 months). The presence of HCV-RNA in the mothers was associated with a high titre of anti-HCV by ELISA-2 or a positivity of the second generation recombinant immunoblot assay. At birth, 26 babies were positive for anti-HCV. Passively transferred maternal antibodies became undetectable within 2-15 months. HCV-RNA was detected in only 3 infants (9.7%) within 1-4 weeks after birth and persisted thereafter. The genotype of HCV-RNA in each of the infants was consistent with that of their mother. These 3 showed chronic transaminase elevation during the follow up that started at 1-2 months of age, although they revealed no clinical symptoms. Reelevation of anti-HCV titre was observed in the HCV-infected infants within 10 months of age, suggesting an endogenous production of anti-HCV. The mean titre of HCV-RNA in three mothers of infected infants was higher than that in the mothers of uninfected infants (10(5.3 +/- 0.3) vs 10(4.4 +/- 0.2)/ml).


Our findings indicate that HCV was most likely to have been transmitted from mothers to infants at the time of delivery and that it was capable of evoking the chronic carrier state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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