Findings from a new study reported that hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in pregnant women was associated with higher incidences of premature births.
HCV infection was further linked to edemas, hypertension, and pruritus.
Investigators from the Department of Infectious Disease and Hepatology, Medical University of Bialystok, Poland, evaluated the course of pregnancy among women infected with either viruses. They additionally assessed the condition of neonates immediately after birth.
“Despite specified procedures that concern dealing with the patients infected with HBV and HCV, observations regarding the influence of these viruses on the course of pregnancy are ambiguous,” they wrote.
Pregnancy Outcomes and HBV, HCV
The investigators enrolled a total of 540 pregnant individuals — 157 were infected with HBV (mean age, 29 years old), 53 with HCV (mean age, 28 years), and 330 were healthy (mean age, 28 years). None of the participating women were infected with HIV or took intoxicants.
Patients with HBV were excluded if they had high surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus (HBsAg) concentration or cirrhosis. In the study population, none of the women with the virus had qualified for or were treated with antiviral drugs.
At birth, infants delivered by healthy women generally weighed more than infants delivered by either HBV- or HCV-infected women (3.517 kg vs 3.347 kg vs 3.366, respectively).
The Apgar scores, which assessed the clinical condition of neonates at the 5th minute of life, were reported as lower among infants of infected women (HBV, 9.4 vs HCV, 9.3 vs control, 9.7; P<.05).
A key finding in the study was that premature births occurred significantly more often in the HBV- and HCV-infected groups versus the control group (HCV, 14.6% and HBV, 24.5%, vs control, 6.96%; P<.05).
For HCV-infected patients, miscarriages were significantly more common as compared with healthy patients (9.4% vs 1.8%; P< 0.05).
This pattern was also noted for miscarriages between HBV-infection patients and healthy patients; however, the investigators did not consider the finding statistically significant.
Women with HCV also experienced increased incidences of pruritus (10.5% vs control, 4.5%; P<.05), edemas (9.4% vs 2.4%; P<.05), and arterial hypertension (9.4% vs 1.5%; P<.05).
“An increase in viraemia during the pregnancy with its consequent decrease after the delivery [was] observed in the pregnant with HBV and without HBeAg,” the investigators wrote.
“HBV infections do not exert an influence on the clinical pregnancy course, whereas HCV infections may lead to oedemas, arterial hypertension, and pruritus during the pregnancy course,” they concluded.
The study, “The influence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections on the pregnancy course,” was published online in Polish Gynecology.