Saturday, June 26, 2010

HCV in Egypt: HCV infection in newborne children

How many newborne children become infected in Egypt per year? More than anyother place in the world.

It is well documented that moms who have a positive test for HCV RNA are infected with the virus and have virus in their blood. There have been many studies to try and find out how many children born to these women will become infected at the time of birth.

The results from these studies vary. By far most children borne to mothers with HCV will not be or become infected. However, about 2% to 5% or more of the new born children will be infected. This is called HCV perinatal transmission. We do not know exactly how this occurs.

We can be certain about this: in Egypt more children are infected by perinatal transmission than anyplace else in the world. This is because of the HCV epidemic in Egypt. In Egypt, 14.7% have HCV antibody (this means infected previously by HCV) and 10% are chronically infected, have virus in their blood, and are infectious to others.

Since we know how many children are born in Egypt each year and how many of the mothers would be chronically infected, we can estimate how many new born children are being infected per year.

Given an Egyptian population of 77 million (other estimates are somewhat higher) and a birth rate of 22.12/1000, an estimated 3,410 newborne children will become infected with HCV. This is easily the highest population based rate of HCV infection in newborne children in the world.

This seems unavoidable. A HCV infected pregnant woman cannot take anti-HCV medication which is contraindicated for pregnancy. In fact, a woman in her childbearing years cannot be given HCV therapy unless it can be assured that she will not become pregnant.

This can be prevented. Prevention of HCV transmission or infection can be greatly improved in Egypt. This will prevent more people and therefore more moms from becoming infected with HCV in the first place.

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