In the United States, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has increased among young persons who inject drugs, but the extent of this epidemic among reproductive-aged women and their children is unknown.
Dr Kathleen Ly and colleagues estimated numbers and described characteristics of reproductive-aged women with HCV infection and of their offspring.
The team analyzed the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) from 2006 to 2014, and the Quest Diagnostics Health Trends national database from 2011 to 2014 in the USA.
The researchers found that 171,801 women, and 1859 children with HCV infection reported to the NNDSS.
|The percentage of HCV was 3-fold higher among children aged 2 to 3 years|
|Annals of Internal Medicine|
The team reported there were 2.1 million reproductive-aged women, and 56,684 children who had HCV testing by Quest Diagnostics.
NNDSS HCV case reports and Quest laboratory data regarding unique reproductive-aged women and children who were tested for HCV infection.
The researchers found that the number of reproductive-aged women with acute and past or present HCV infection in the NNDSS doubled, from 15,550 in 2006 to 31,039 in 2014.
Of 581,255 pregnant women tested by Quest from 2011 to 2014, 4232 had HCV infection.
Of children tested by Quest, the team found that less than 1% had HCV infection, but the percentage was 3-fold higher among children aged 2 to 3 years than those aged 12 to 13 years.
Applying the Quest HCV infection rate to annual live births from 2011 to 2014 resulted in an estimated average of 29,000 women with HCV infection, who gave birth to 1700 infants with the infection each year.
Dr Ly's team concludes, "These data suggest a recent increase in HCV infection among reproductive-aged women, and may inform deliberations regarding a role for routine HCV screening during pregnancy."