Perinatal Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus

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D Hepatitis C antibody testing of her infant during the first 6 to 9 months after birth may not accurately determine the presence or absence of HCV infection.

This answer is correct. Because maternal anti-HCV freely crosses the placenta, virtually all newborns of HCV-infected mothers will have positive anti-HCV tests. For those infants not actually infected with HCV, the anti-HCV gradually declines and nearly all have resolution of anti-HCV by 18 months of age. Thus testing for anti-HCV in the first 6 to 9 months of life does not reliably sort out whether the child has acquired HCV. In this setting, the positive predictive value of antibody testing increases from 6 to 17 months of age. Accordingly, most experts recommend delaying testing for HCV infection in children born to anti-HCV positive mothers until 18 months of age.

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