Objective: Due to their antiproliferative activity, the probable effects of interferons on a fetus are a concern. We report on a pregnant patient who developed acute hepatitis C during pregnancy and was treated with a short course of interferon alfa therapy with a successful outcome.
Case summary: A 26-year-old woman was diagnosed with acute hepatitis C at the 16th week of pregnancy. She received a total dose of 72 million units of interferon alfa-2b during a 2 1/2 month period. Although the therapy was discontinued due to adverse effects, a complete biochemical and virologic response was obtained. Premature labor occurred and healthy, but growth-restricted, twin infants were born transvaginally. At 18 months of age, they had normal development, with a negative hepatitis C serology.
Discussion: The rate of transmission of hepatitis C virus from mother to infant is within the range of 1-5%. Although acute hepatitis C during pregnancy is a very rare occurrence, the mother is at a great risk for chronic infection. There is scarce literature about the probable effects of interferon use during pregnancy due to a lack of controlled studies in this special population. A total of 8 infants, including ours, exposed to interferon alfa and/or ribavirin during pregnancy showed no congenital anomalies or malformations.
Conclusions: Patients with chronic hepatitis whose therapy can be delayed should not be treated with interferon due to a lack of controlled studies. However, women exposed to interferon inadvertently during pregnancy may be encouraged to continue pregnancy. In patients with acute hepatitis C during pregnancy, the use of interferon therapy should be considered with close monitoring.