We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Risks of Hepatitis During Pregnancy?

By Lindsey Rivas
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The risks of hepatitis during pregnancy are generally low since the infection is usually mild and treatable with vaccines. In some cases, hepatitis can put extra stress on the liver, which can lead to complications like gallstones, cholestasis, or an acute fatty liver condition. A hepatitis B infection has the highest risk of being passed to the newborn, even when the mother does not experience symptoms. Also, hepatitis A can cause complications with the pregnancy and affect the fetus in severe cases. Although the risks from hepatitis C are very low, there is no vaccine or cure for this type of infection.

Most of the time, pregnancy does not affect the severity of hepatitis, and most women with hepatitis can have a normal pregnancy. A doctor might require frequent liver function tests for those with hepatitis during pregnancy to check the status of the disease. When the infection is severe, it can lead to various complications.

In about 6% of cases, hepatitis during pregnancy can result in gallstones. If serious enough, it might require surgery to remove them, although the risks must be weighed against the possibility of miscarriage or premature delivery. Another complication that can occur is called cholestasis, in which the woman will get itchy skin, particularly on the hands and feet. Additionally, one might develop acute fatty liver, which can be life-threatening. This condition can lead to premature delivery in order to save the mother’s life. In such situations, the infant might be born completely healthy, or it can possibly be stillborn.

Of the different forms of hepatitis during pregnancy, hepatitis B poses the greatest risk of being transmitted to the infant. It does not typically cause problems during the pregnancy itself, other than the usual symptoms of jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. During the delivery, the infant can contract the disease from the infected body fluid of the mother, and infants who are infected at birth are highly likely to become chronic carriers of hepatitis B. A pregnant woman who tests positive for this type of hepatitis during pregnancy can receive immune globulin as well as the vaccine. The infant should receive both hepatitis B immune globulin and a vaccine within 12 hours of birth to prevent getting the disease.

Unlike hepatitis B, testing for hepatitis A is not routinely done during pregnancy unless a doctor suspects the disease. This type of infection is spread through feces in unsanitary conditions, so as long as the delivery is done in a sterile environment, there is little risk of it passing to the infant after birth. There are a few risks associated with this type of hepatitis during pregnancy, however. It can cause premature labor, distress to the fetus, and possibly low birth weight for the infant. Hepatitis A immune globulin and the vaccine are both considered to be safe during pregnancy and are usually recommended for a pregnant woman with the infection.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through infected blood. If a woman has this kind of hepatitis during pregnancy, it can be passed to the infant through the uterus in about 3% of cases. There are no specific risks associated with hepatitis C during pregnancy, but a doctor will generally do tests to check the liver function throughout the pregnancy. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.