Hepatitis C on the rise among reproductive-aged women

1. The number of reproductive-aged women infected with HCV doubled from 2006 to 2014.

2. HCV infection among children was more common among those aged 2 to 3 years, compared to those aged 12 to 13 years.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Study Rundown: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection poses a serious health risk and is increasing in the United States. Long-term consequences of HCV infection include liver disease and death. While data is available regarding the prevalence of HCV among young injection drug users, little is known regarding the extent of this health problem among reproductive-aged women and their children. Therefore, the authors of this study aimed to estimate and describe characteristics of reproductive-aged women with HCV infection and of their children. In general, the study results suggest that there has been a recent increase in HCV infection among reproductive-aged women. This study has several limitations. First, one of thee databases used, the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) only records a fraction of the cases of HCV per year due to reporting challenges. As well, provider biases may exist within databases used. Overall, the results of this study shed light on the potential importance of incorporating HCV testing into pregnancy screening.

Click to read the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine

Relevant Reading: The Reproductive Care of Women Living With Hepatitis C Infection

In-Depth [retrospective cohort]: In this retrospective study, data was analyzed from both NNDSS And Quest Diagnostics Health Trends database. The authors included all reports of HCV cases in females aged 15 to 44 years that met the criteria for either confirmed acute or past or present infection. Additionally, pediatric cases included were aged 2 to 13 years. In general, the prevalence of HCV infection within reproductive-aged women has increased. Specifically, the number doubled from 15 550 in 2006 to 31 039 in 2014. In children, the percentage of HCV infection was 3.2 fold higher among those aged 2 to 3 (1.62% [CI, 1.34% to 1.96%]), compared to 12 to 13 (0.50% [CI, 0.41% to 0.62%]). The authors further estimated that an average of 29 000 women (CI, 27 400 to 30 900 women) giving birth from 2011 to 2014 were infected with HCV, of which 1700 infants (CI, 1200 to 2200 infants) were born with HCV infection each year.

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