1International Enteric Vaccine Research Program (IEVRP), Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA.
2Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA.
3International Enteric Vaccine Research Program (IEVRP), Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
4Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA. email@example.com.
Background: Vertical transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the primary cause of hepatitis C in the pediatric population. Nonetheless, only a small proportion of HCV-exposed children are tested. This study aimed to measure the proportion of HCV-exposed children tested and infected in Western New York and to identify factors influencing the odds of testing and infection in this population.
Methods: This was a 11-year retrospective chart review study in which clinical, demographic, and behavioral data for HCV-exposed children and their mothers were collected. This period included year 2019 when a hepatitis C program began promoting early hepatitis C screening among infants born to mothers positive for hepatitis C. PCR-based detection of hepatitis C was used for children under 18 months of age and antibody testing for children above 18 months of age, followed by PCR if the antibody testing was positive. Logistic regression models were used to determine which characteristics associate with testing and infection status.
Results: From a total of 133 children evaluated in clinic for hepatitis C from 2011 to 2021, 96.2% (128/133) were seen from 2019 to 2021. Among the 133 HCV-exposed children in our sample, 72.1% (96/133) were tested for HCV, 62.4% (83/133) were tested by PCR, 9.0% (12/133) tested by antibody, and 5.2% (5/95) of those tested were infected. Only one child out of 12 was positive for hepatitis C antibody yet, subsequent PCR testing was negative in this child. Among all five hepatitis C infected children, four were diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, five had maternal history of illicit drug use, one had maternal history of HIV infection, and all of them were identified after the hepatitis C program open in 2019. The odds of a child being tested were lower for those accompanied by their biological mother at their clinic visit (odds ratio, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.06-0.45).
Conclusions: Screening programs on hepatitis C vertical transmission improved detection of hepatitis C among exposed children. The proportion of children born to mothers with hepatitis C in Western New York that were positive for hepatitis C was 5.2%, suggesting that similar proportion of exposed infants born before 2019 were lost for follow up.