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Is it safe for a mom with hepatitis C to breastfeed her baby?

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Yes, you can nurse your baby without worrying. HCV, the virus that causes hepatitis C, does not spread through breast milk. Studies also show that breastfed infants do not have higher rates of hepatitis C than formula-fed babies.

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.

If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, it’s not clear whether it’s OK to continue breastfeeding or not. But experts say the safest bet is to stop until your nipples heal. To help prevent your milk from drying up, pump it and throw it away. Once you’ve healed, you can start nursing again.

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

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