12/07/23 Health Advisory: Test perinatally exposed children for hepatitis C.

Hands cradling a pregnant belly

Action requested

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you test children born to people with:

  • Detectable hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA.
  • Positive HCV antibody results and unknown HCV RNA status.

Test children for HCV RNA at 2–6 months old, up to 17 months old. Give untested children older than 18 months an HCV antibody test with reflex to HCV RNA.

  • Children with an undetectable HCV RNA result at or after 2 months old do not require follow-up unless clinically warranted.
  • Refer children with detectable HCV RNA to a healthcare provider with expertise in pediatric hepatitis C management.

Report hepatitis C cases in pregnant people and the birth of an exposed infant.

Complete the perinatal hepatitis C fax form and fax it to the Health Department at (360) 221-8480. Or call the reporting line: (360) 914-0839, Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. After hours: call (360) 914-0837 or Washington State Department of Health (206) 418-5500. 

Perinatal hepatitis C is increasing.

Rates of HCV infection during pregnancy in the United States increased 20% from 2016 to 2020. About 6%–7% of all perinatally exposed children will develop chronic HCV infection. Curative direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy can be started at 3 years old. Testing and identification of perinatally infected children, referral to care, and curative treatment are important steps to achieve hepatitis C elimination. 

View Washington State Department of Health’s Hep C Free WA plan.

Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborne infection in the United States. Washington State Department of Health’s Hep C Free WA program strives to eliminate hepatitis C in Washington by 2030.

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