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Does hepatitis C spread through breast milk?

ANSWER

HCV, the virus that causes hepatitis C, does not spread through breast milk. The virus spreads to others when blood from an infected person gets into the blood of someone who’s not infected. Babies can get the virus from their mothers during birth -- about 6 out of 100 infants born to moms with hepatitis C get infected. But research shows that breastfeeding doesn’t cause infections.

  • Other ways hepatitis C spreads include:
  • Sharing needles or syringes
  • Needlestick injuries, which can take place in health care settings
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing if the items are not cleaned properly
  • Sexual contact with an infected person
  • Sharing personal items that may have someone’s blood on it like a razor or toothbrush

SOURCES:

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “Hepatitis C.”

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: “Hepatitis C.”

Paediatrics Child Health: “Hepatitis C in Pregnancy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Mastitis.”

CDC: “Hepatitis B or C Infections, “Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for the Public, “What to Expect while Breastfeeding.”

Advances in experimental medicine and biology : “Mother-to-infant Hepatitis C Virus Transmission and Breastfeeding.”

Annals of Internal Medicine: “Reducing Risk for Mother-To-Infant Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus: A Systematic Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.”

New Jersey Department of Health: “Hepatitis C & Pregnant Women.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Hepatitis B and C in Pregnancy.”

Government of Western Australia Department of Health: “Hepatitis C and breastfeeding.”

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on June 29, 2020

SOURCES:

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “Hepatitis C.”

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: “Hepatitis C.”

Paediatrics Child Health: “Hepatitis C in Pregnancy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Mastitis.”

CDC: “Hepatitis B or C Infections, “Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for the Public, “What to Expect while Breastfeeding.”

Advances in experimental medicine and biology : “Mother-to-infant Hepatitis C Virus Transmission and Breastfeeding.”

Annals of Internal Medicine: “Reducing Risk for Mother-To-Infant Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus: A Systematic Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.”

New Jersey Department of Health: “Hepatitis C & Pregnant Women.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Hepatitis B and C in Pregnancy.”

Government of Western Australia Department of Health: “Hepatitis C and breastfeeding.”

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on June 29, 2020

NEXT QUESTION:

If I have hepatitis C, can I breastfeed if my nipples are cracked or bleeding?

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