More than one in 20 children delivered by women with chronic hepatitis C virus infection become infected themselves, suggesting that vertical transmission is the most common transmission route of the disease among children, according to the results of a recent meta-analysis.
“Following the implementation of blood and blood product screening, vertical transmission has gained importance as the primary HCV transmission route among children,” researchers wrote in Clinical Infectious Diseases. “Assessment of the burden of vertical transmission is essential in countries with high HCV prevalence, such as Egypt.”
A total of 109 studies published in the past decade were included in the analysis to provide an updated global estimate of the proportion of infants who contract HCV through vertical transmission.
Results indicated that HIV coinfection played a significant role in the risk for vertical transmission of HCV. For example, among children of HCV-antibody positive and RNA-positive mothers, the risk for vertical transmission of HCV was 5.8% (95% CI, 4.2-7.8) for children born to HIV-negative mothers and 10.8% (95% CI, 7.6-15.2) for children born to HIV-positive mothers.
In adjusted analyses, maternal HIV coinfection status was the most important determinant of acquiring HCV through vertical transmission (adjusted OR=2.56; 95% CI, 1.5-4.43).
“Additional risk factors warrant further examination in primary research, namely maternal HIV treatment and HCV genotype,” the researchers wrote. “Such research would contribute to quantifying the contribution of HCV vertical transmission to HCV incidence in high-burden countries and in high-risk populations globally.”
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.