Background/aims: The natural history of chronic hepatitis C infection during pregnancy has not been clearly established, and thus our aim was to assess serum alanine aminotransferase levels and serum HCV RNA levels during pregnancy.
Methods: Twenty-six pregnant women with chronic hepatitis C were studied. Serum alanine aminotransferase was assessed within the 3 months before, monthly during and within the 3 months after pregnancy. In 12 women, serum HCV RNA levels were quantified by the branched DNA assay. Twenty-six age-matched non-pregnant women with chronic hepatitis C were followed up for 1 year, and used as a comparison group.
Results: During pregnancy, serum alanine aminotransferase levels decreased in the second and third trimesters. The third trimester levels were significantly lower than serum alanine aminotransferase levels before pregnancy (p=0.0001). Seventy-seven percent of the pregnant women with increased pre-pregnancy levels had normalization of serum alanine aminotransferase levels. In the second or third trimesters, serum HCV RNA levels increased. The third trimester serum HCV RNA levels were significantly higher than levels before pregnancy (p=0.01). No significant change in serum alanine aminotransferase or HCV RNA levels was observed in the control group.
Conclusion: In pregnant women with chronic hepatitis C, serum alanine aminotransferase levels decrease, and serum HCV RNA levels increase during the second and third trimesters.