1 School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts; firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; and.
3 Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common blood-borne pathogen in the United States. In the context of the opioid epidemic, there has been a dramatic rise in perinatal opioid use and the prevalence of HCV infection, which can be transmitted to infants. One national guideline recommends HCV screening for all pregnant women and screening for HCV-exposed newborns after 18 months of age. In this study, we aimed to identify the trends in HCV prevalence and screening among mothers using opioids during pregnancy and infants exposed to HCV infection in utero.
Infants with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (779.5) or International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision codes (P96.1) for neonatal abstinence syndrome and in-utero exposure to methadone, buprenorphine, or other opioid medications were identified for this retrospective cohort analysis. Information regarding maternal and infant HCV screening, demographics, and follow-up care was also extracted from the electronic medical record and HealthInfoNet, a statewide database of laboratory results.
Between 2013 and 2018, 769 infants with in-utero opiate exposure were identified. The maternal HCV screening rate increased from 58.1% in 2013 to 90% in 2018. Of the mothers tested for HCV during pregnancy, 257 (47.9%) were HCV-positive. Of the 177 infants eligible for testing by age criteria, 94 (53%) were tested for HCV, and 7 (7.4%) were HCV-positive. We estimate that an additional 10 infants were HCV-positive and undiagnosed.
Despite the high prevalence of HCV, rates of maternal and infant screening remain suboptimal. This study highlights the need for improved care for this high-risk population of infants born to mothers with opiate use disorder.