If left untreated, the hepatitis A virus (HAV) can increase your risk for certain pregnancy complications.
During pregnancy, your body allocates its resources to the growth of a new human being. You share with your baby much of what you do and experience. Sometimes illnesses that don’t significantly affect you can affect your baby.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is self-limiting for most adults, meaning it clears up on its own, typically without treatment. Some people may not even experience the symptoms.
Contracting hepatitis A during pregnancy is a different — often more serious — situation. Hepatitis A symptoms can fly under your radar, and can potentially increase the risks for complications like preterm birth.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It’s a condition with many underlying causes, including viral infection. When a virus is the cause, your doctor diagnoses you with viral hepatitis.
One of the five liver-specific viruses, A, B, C, D, or E, causes viral hepatitis. All of these viruses cause infection in the liver leading to inflammation, but due to their unique disease patterns, they are of five specific subtypes.
Other variants of viral hepatitis
Hepatitis A is an acute or short-term form of viral hepatitis. It passes from one person to another through contact with feces containing the virus.
Many people are exposed to the virus through food or water carrying particles of stool, but you can also contract HAV through the fecal-oral route, which may occur during rimming or analingus.
Symptoms tend to develop
According to a 2020 review on viral hepatitis in pregnancy, preterm labor occurs in more than 60% of cases and is more likely if you’ve gotten the virus in a later trimester.
Other possible pregnancy complications from HAV infection include:
- early separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus
- premature rupture of gestational membranes (leaking amniotic fluid)
- antepartum hemorrhage (vaginal bleeding)
- premature contractions
In rare cases, your baby can contract HAV infection through vertical transmission (transmitted during pregnancy).
In addition to possible damage to your baby’s liver, HAV transmitted during pregnancy can result in neonatal meconium peritonitis, a rupture of your baby’s bowel that causes inflammation of the abdominal lining.
Although pregnancy complications from HAV can be serious, not everyone who contracts hepatitis A during pregnancy will experience these challenges.
Which type of hepatitis affects pregnancy the most?
Hepatitis E shares many of the same potential pregnancy complications as hepatitis A, but other complications that hepatitis E may cause include:
Breastfeeding is not associated with transmission of HAV to the baby. If you’re experiencing an HAV infection while breastfeeding, you can continue to nurse as you have been with
It’s natural for antibodies from HAV infection to be detected in your breast milk if you’ve developed hepatitis A during pregnancy. It shouldn’t be a reason to stop nursing, as doctors would encourage you to breastfeed your baby.
Your doctor may make an individualized recommendation based on the severity or progression of your acute HAV infection.
There’s no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Due to the low risk of transmission during pregnancy, initial treatment focuses on the health of the pregnant person.
Your doctor will discuss a recovery plan with you that includes plenty of rest, adequate nutrition, and proper hydration. Hospitalization is usually only necessary if you develop liver complications.
Prescriptions can help manage symptoms of fever or vomiting, and use over-the-counter (OTC) products only under the guidance of your doctor. Some OTC products, including supplements and vitamins,
If you’re pregnant and concerned about recent contact with HAV, your doctor may give you an injection of hepatitis A immunoglobulin — short-acting antibodies that can help fight or prevent infection.
Hepatitis A immunoglobulin may also be administered to your baby
Is hepatitis A vaccine recommended in pregnancy?
The hepatitis A vaccine
Doctors recommend hepatitis A vaccine for pregnant people with a high risk for HAV-related pregnancy complications.
People receive vaccines in
Hepatitis A is a type of liver inflammation caused by HAV. While it’s usually mild and self-limiting in healthy adults, hepatitis A can pose serious health concerns in pregnant people.
Hepatitis A in pregnancy may lead to preterm birth, leakage of amniotic fluid, and premature separation of the placenta, among other concerns.
While there’s no specific treatment for hepatitis A, it’s safe to be vaccinated for this virus while pregnant. If you suspect you have an HAV infection, proactive treatment with immunoglobulin may prevent the newborn from getting the infection.