Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, caused by different viruses known as A, B, C, D, and E. Some of these viruses can be prevented with vaccines, but hepatitis B and C are particularly alarming because they can lead to long-term health problems. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to these viruses, particularly if they have a history of excessive drinking, drug use, exposure to toxins, or autoimmune diseases, all of which can strain the liver.

How are hepatitis A, B, and C transmitted

Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is typically spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Though the infection can be more severe in pregnant women than in the general population, pregnant women with hepatitis A typically recover without experiencing serious consequences, but care must be taken.

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infected body fluids like blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. Pregnant women with hepatitis B need special care because there's a high risk of passing the virus to their baby during childbirth. If a baby gets infected during birth, they might develop chronic hepatitis B, which can cause serious liver damage and even liver cancer over time.

Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. It can be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. If a mother is also co-infected with HIV, the risk of the child developing hepatitis C increases. Persistent hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

What are the preventive measures

Screening for hepatitis: Screening for hepatitis is a crucial part of prenatal care to protect both the mother and the unborn child from infections. It is recommended that all pregnant women undergo testing, specifically the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) test. If a mother tests positive for infection, immediate measures such as administering the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immunoglobulin to the newborn within 12 hours of birth are essential to minimise transmission risks. Various antibody and antigen tests can detect all different types of hepatitis viruses.

Vaccinations: Staying up to date with doctor recommended vaccines is crucial for preventing hepatitis infections and reducing the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Ensuring timely vaccinations can effectively protect against the potential health risks associated with hepatitis.

Healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential during pregnancy. This includes

Hygiene practices: Regularly washing hands before and after eating, and after using the bathroom, to prevent infections. Keeping the living environment clean reduces the risks of infection.

Nutritious diet: Consuming fibre-rich foods and nutrient-dense meals supports maternal and fetal health. Eating properly cooked food and drinking purified or boiled water is essential for maintaining good health.

Physical activity: Engaging in physical activities such as yoga, meditation, or walking promotes overall well-being and helps maintain a healthy body throughout pregnancy.

Promoting safe practices: During pregnancy, it’s crucial to refrain from behaviors that could increase the risk of hepatitis, such as sharing needles or engaging in unprotected sexual activity with a partner who may be infected.

2024-07-03T11:43:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd