Hepatitis C can cause a lot of long-term damage, especially to the liver. Pregnant women must be especially careful, because it can be spread to the baby in utero.
A news article published by MedPage Today LLC states that there has been a tremendous increase in pregnant women being diagnosed with hepatitis C from 1998 to 2018. In fact, the article mentions that “the prevalence of hepatitis C virus infections in pregnant women increased 16-fold over a 21-year period, from 0.34 cases per 1,000 pregnancies to 5.3 cases per 1,000 pregnancies.”
Another article released by AJMC explains that these climbing cases of hepatitis C among pregnant women is believed to be caused by the opioid epidemic. The article goes over a study conducted by Po-Hung Chen, MD, PhD at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his colleagues. During the study, Chen and his colleagues state that “these increases were concurrent with increasing proportions of pregnancies in women with opioid use histories.” Unfortunately, hepatitis C cases tripled between 2010 and 2015, which was linked to people using drug injections more frequently.
After reviewing the data and research on the increasing hepatitis C cases among pregnant women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) started recommending “universal screening early in each pregnancy for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.” ACOG stated that they would prefer that hepatitis C is found before a person is pregnant, urging healthcare providers to screen and test for hepatitis C on all adults at least once even if they are not pregnant.
What is hepatitis C and how do you get it?
According to the Mayo Clinic, hepatitis C is a very serious type of infection that can lead to swelling and inflammation in the liver. In fact, it can permanently damage the liver if not detected and treated in time. To make matters worse, many people do not realize that they have hepatitis C until it is too late. The reason for this is because it can take up to 10 years for any signs or symptoms to begin to show.
You can get hepatitis C through contact with someone else’s blood who already has hepatitis C. This means that if another person’s infected blood enters your bloodstream, you likely have hepatitis C. People become infected with hepatitis C by injecting drugs with shared needles, getting a tattoo or piercing with unclean needles, or anything else that exposes them to another person’s blood. Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for if you think that you may have hepatitis C include:
- Fatigue, exhaustion, and drowsiness
- Frequent and easy bleeding and bruising
- No appetite or inability to eat
- Feeling itchy
- Losing weight
- Buildup of fluid in the abdomen and stomach
- Swollen legs
- Dark urine
- Yellow skin or eyes, which is typically a sign of jaundice
- Feeling confused
Some people are able to catch their hepatitis C infection in time to cure it, while others may end up living with the infection for the rest of their lives.
Testing and treatment for hepatitis C in pregnant women
Since hepatitis C cannot be treated with antivirals during pregnancy, the goal is to catch and treat the infection before pregnancy ever occurs. However, if that is not possible, the individual will need to begin treatment right after they deliver the baby. Hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be treated safely during pregnancy, but hepatitis C, the top reported infection around America, cannot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that if hepatitis C is caught and treated during the acute phase, which is the first six months, there is a good chance that the individual will get better. However, if people are left untested and untreated, the infection turns chronic, resulting in severe health issues, such as damage to the liver, cancer, cirrhosis, and even death. Hepatitis C should be detected and treated promptly in order to prevent any long-term complications from emerging.
Can your baby suffer from hepatitis C?
Unfortunately, it is possible for babies to suffer from hepatitis C. If the mother who is carrying the baby has hepatitis C, the virus can either spread to the unborn baby in the womb or when the mother is giving birth. While the mother is pregnant, there is not much she can do to prevent the baby from getting the infection. Although this may be frightening for expecting mothers to hear, the current rate of transmission is around 5.8 percent, meaning that it is relatively low. However, if you are planning to become pregnant or thinking about expanding your family in the near future, it is suggested that you get tested for hepatitis C beforehand to prevent passing this dangerous infection to your baby.
How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case on my hands?
If you show symptoms of hepatitis C and inform your doctor of these symptoms, it is their job to run the appropriate tests and develop a treatment plan to combat the infection. However, if your doctor blows off your symptoms and fails to run any tests for hepatitis C, you may have a medical malpractice case on your hands. Individuals usually seek medical attention from their healthcare provider when they know that something seems abnormal about their health or bodies. During this time, they expect to receive the medical care and guidance that they need, but instead, they are sent home thinking that they have another health condition or that their symptoms will eventually pass. This is a common scenario for hepatitis C patients that typically results in liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, and more. If this happens to you, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent doctor or hospital. By doing so, you may receive compensation to help you pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
If you believe that your hepatitis C infection was ignored and neglected by a healthcare provider, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Mississippi medical malpractice attorneys from Merkel & Cocke, PA at your earliest convenience. Our lawyers will sit down with you, listen to your experience, and determine how much compensation you may be entitled to. We not only have the knowledge and skills to assist you with this type of case, but we also work with some of the best experts around the state of Mississippi. You can rest assured knowing that you are in good legal hands and that we will fight for the maximum amount of compensation possible. Fill out our contact form or call our office to schedule your free case review today. Our team is available and ready to assist you at our office locations in Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville, and Oxford.
After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975, Mr. Cocke and Mr. Merkel established Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 1982. Since that time the emphasis of Mr. Cocke’s practice has progressed toward medical malpractice. At the present time his practice is exclusively devoted to handling medical negligence cases for the plaintiff, either as a result of direct contact by the client or on referral from other attorneys who are not familiar with the handling of medical negligence cases. Mr. Cocke was selected Best Lawyer of the year for 2012 and 2014 in The Memphis area in the field of Medical Malpractice and has been selected a Best Lawyer and Super Lawyer every year since 2006. Learn more about John Hartwell Cocke here.