Hepatitis C virus among childbearing women in Scotland: prevalence, deprivation, and diagnosis

Hutchinson, S J; Goldberg, D J; King, M; Cameron, S O; Show, L E; Brown, A; Mackenzie, J; Wilson, K
April 2004
Gut;Apr2004, Vol. 53 Issue 4, p593
Academic Journal
Objectives: (A) To examine the prevalence and demographic characteristics of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among childbearing women in Scotland; and (B) to determine the extent of maternal HCV infection diagnosed prior to birth. Methods: (A) Residual dried blood spot samples from routine neonatal screening, collected throughout Scotland during March-October 2000, were unlinked from identifiers and tested anonymously for HCV antibodies; and (B) electronic record linkage of Scotland's databases of births and diagnosed HCV infections was performed. Results: (A) Of 30 259 samples, 121 were enzyme linked immunosorbent assay repeat reactive and 88 of these were confirmed as anti-HCV positive in the recombinant immunoblot assay, representing a seroprevalence of 0.29-0.40%. HCV seroprevalence was high among 25-29 year olds (0.4-0.57%), in high deprivation areas (0.92-1.07%), and in Greater Glasgow (0.83-0.96%) and Grampian (0.38- I 0.62%). Adjusted relative risk for HCV infection was highest among residents in high deprivation areas of Glasgow (7.2 (95% confidence interval 2.0-25.5)). (B) Of 121 HCV infections found among women at delivery, 24% and 46% were estimated to have been diagnosed prior to pregnancy and birth, respectively. Conclusions: HCV prevalence among Scottish childbearing women is consistent with that expected from injecting drug use. Based on reported rates of mother to child transmission, 8-11 paediatric infections are expected per annum. Diagnosis in only 24% of infected women prior to pregnancy indicates the extent to which HCV goes unrecognised in the injecting community. The current HCV screening approach-to test only those with a history of injecting drug use (or other risk factors for infection) - identifies approximately a quarter of previously undetected infections among pregnant women.


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