Background & objective: Information on hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in pregnant women in India is scanty. This study was carried out to investigate the prevalence of HCV within an obstetric population in north India and to identify the various risk factors for the viral infection.
Methods: A total of 8130 pregnant women from antenatal clinic were subjected to anti-HCV testing by third generation ELISA. Anti-HCV positive seropositive women were further tested for HCVRNA, hepatitis B and HIV. The women were evaluated for the presence of following known risk factors for HCV infection.
Results: Eighty four (1.03%) pregnant females had HCV antibodies. Of these, 46 (54.8%) were positive for HCV-RNA, 4(4.8%) tested positive for HBsAg, while none tested positive for HIV. The mean age and parity of the anti-HCV antibody positive women was 24.36+/-3.6 yr and 0.9+/-0.8, while that of the anti-HCV antibody negative women was 24.13+/-3.6 yr and 0.8+/-0.8 respectively. Of the 84 anti-HCV positive women, 52 (61.9 %) did not have any identifiable risk factors. The risk factors variables did not have significant association with HCV positive status.
Interpretation & conclusion: Prevalence of hepatitis C in pregnant women was 1.03 per cent. None of the known risk factors was found to be significantly associated with the HCV infection. Hence case identification and consequent management pose a particular problem and routine screening is not a viable option in our resource- poor setting.