Hepatitis is harmful for pregnant women and their babies; however, immunization can protect a woman and her unborn baby against it. Ideally, it is recommended to opt for the vaccinations before one becomes pregnant. It is recommended that all women planning pregnancy, be screened for hepatitis B because it’s possible that they have been infected, without knowing. A pre-pregnancy blood test can be taken up to see if you are immune to the disease. Following are the different types of Hepatitis and highlights how they are contracted:
Hepatitis A is a liver disorder which has some common symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and nausea. It isn’t usually as serious as the B version of the disease, and most of the times doesn’t affect an unborn baby, but in rare cases, it may contribute to premature labor and infection in the newborn. The Hepatitis A vaccine protects against this liver disease that spreads through contaminated food and water.
Hepatitis B virus causes liver inflammation, nausea, fatigue, and jaundice and may even lead to chronic liver disease, liver cancer, and death in some cases. A pregnant woman infected with hepatitis B can pass the infection to her baby during delivery. The infected babies hence have high risk of contracting serious liver diseases as an adult. Thus, it is extremely necessary for women to get screened for Hepatitis B, before conceiving and get immunized.
Women in contact with the factors such as exposure to transfusions, contaminated needles, or injected drug are at high risk for Hepatitis C infection and should be screened before and during pregnancy. Although there is no preventive treatment at this time for hepatitis C infection that can influence the rate of transmission of the virus from mother to infant, one can protect themselves by knowing how hepatitis C is spread, and then by taking precautions to prevent infection.
Hepatitis E infection in liver, during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, severe disease might lead to maternal death. Currently, there is no HEV vaccine available commercially, but following proper sanitation, good hygiene practices and taking precautions for handling food and water, such as drinking only bottled water, avoiding ice cubes in beverages, avoiding unpeeled fruits and vegetables, and washing hands, fruits and vegetables thoroughly with safe water before eating, can help preventing the infection.