Hepatitis A is a water borne disease transmitted by the feco oral route. It is a viral infection of the liver primarily. It causes symptoms like fatigue , nausea , vomiting , abdominal pain , yellow sclera , dark coloured urine and so on . It is the most common cause of jaundice in pregnant women. It is important to know the signs and symptoms associated with the same so that timely treatment can be done. Early detection and timely treatment are pivotal in pregnant women.
Prevention from Hepatitis A:
This infection can be prevented by maintaining hygienic practices such as hand washing with safe water especially before handling food, avoiding drinking water / ice cubes of unknown purity and avoiding eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
Infected mothers and infants in hospital are kept in isolation to prevent nosocomial or hospital borne infection to others.
Vaccines are also available for preventing an infection with this virus and the protection lasts for nearly 12 months .
These vaccines can be used during pregnancy if required especially if a woman is travelling to an endemic region where the incidence of hepatitis A would be high .Immunoglobulins can also be given during pregnancy if there is history of an exposure as they offer protection till the vaccines start to work.
Effect On Pregnancy Due to Hepatitis A infection:
As such , hepatitis A does not have any serious outcomes in pregnancy . When acquired in the second or third trimester , there may be a risk of preterm labour , premature contractions ,premature rupture of membranes or placental separation .
Effect on the Baby Due to Hepatitis A infection:
Transmission from mother to fetus is extremely uncommon and infants born to infected mothers are usually not affected .Rare cases of feral ascitis , meconium peritonitis and perforation of the distal ileum have been reported and in all the cases the recovery post surgery was good.Still such newborns can be given the hepatitis A vaccine and immunoglobulin .
Breastfeeding During Hepatitis A Infection:
Breastfeeding is absolutely fine since there is no evidence to prove transmission of the virus through breast milk .