Hepatitis C?
Hi to the List

As I have posted already, the other day we got a referral. One thing the doctor wants to check on is a Hep C test. Originally the medical said that the baby tested + for Hep C. She wants to make sure that the baby is negative.

I dont know a lot about this stuff(and not sure I really want to know) but if the baby had Hep C does that mean that the mom was a heavy drug user during pregnancy? Is it as bad as it sounds.

Amy K, NJ
I have experience w/this. Mom could very well have been drug user. Or be hanging out w/drug users. The test you need taken (they can do this in Russia) is called a PCR Test. Our son had the PCR done by the time we met him. On the PCR (much more precise test) he then tested negative for hep C but positive for maternal antibodies. Meaning he could later test positive for Hep C...I think they told us to retest him over 5 years or something like that. However when we got home we retested the PCR and he tested negative for everything. Doctor told us that we don't have to retest anymore...once you get a complete negative it is negative.

I would talk to a IA doctor or ped though. I could have gotten wrong info, you never know.
my son had hep c antibodies as ababy what he is negitive for it know
yes, chances are the birthmom was a drug addict and shared needles with someone else and thats how she caught hep c. (one of the most common ways to get it)

when a baby is born, the baby could test postive for the anitbodies of hep c, but can convert to negative over time, or may not.

so you just have to be patient on this one.

this is common with babies born with HIV. some convert back to neg while others are still HIV.

there are no set rules when it comes to something like this.
thanks for feedback

Hi everyone. Thanks for your feedback.

Although my IA doctor said that her main concern is that the baby may have Hep C, she didnt mention that she was concerned that the kid had brain damage from a mom who injected needles. I was wondering if she could screw up her kid by using drugs.

Still I worry. I will try to wait it out, but I worry

Amy K NJ
Here is a great website for hepatitis C info. I don't believe it violates the terms of service, as it's a nonprofit informational website. You can learn more about the methods of transmission, and there are some very positive stats about maternal-infant transmission here, too.

Although a common method of transmission is via sharing of needles, it is certainly not the only way to become infected, and we must also keep in mind that the health system and blood supply in Russia generally considered less safe than that of the US.


HI Jen

Thanks for the link. Ill check it out.

Amy K, NJ
Try not to worry until you have all the information. You want to see if the baby tested positive for the virus itself, or antibodies. If the mother had Hep C, the baby could just have the antibodies in his/her blood. Usually the antibodies disappear by 12/18 months if the virus is not present. Only about 5% of the children with antibodies actually get the disease. And the PCR test mentioned tests for the virus itself.

Our son had the antibodies, but tested negative for the virus, and the antibodies were gone before he was one year old.

I hope you get the info you need to make a decision you feel good about. Good luck to you.
- Maura Smile
i have a bunch of good links for hep c - I have to clean out my box to pm you so I will do that in the morning first thing.

Although in this country it's probably for people who have Hep c to be a drug user - I don't think you can jump to the same conclusion for these children in Russia. After all these children are here because there was no birth control...Hep C is becoming much more common here as well and it's not because we are all becoming drug users...I'm just saying don't assume one goes with the other. It is always a good idea to have the kids test for Hep a, b and c if possible but I know many regions don't do this (the city of St. Pete does where we adopted from).
HOpe that helps-
I just sent you a pm - and I thought of something else - in the St Petersburg baby homes they wouldn't put children that tested positive for the pcr test in with other kids. So I knew my child tested positive for the antibodies but when we went to the orphanage and went over everything with the doctor we were surprised to find out she had been tested several other times after birth, including the pcr test and was negative at the time we saw her. We did have a test done in country but it wouldn't have changed our mind. We also have had her retested since she has been home as well..
Anyway - I just thought you may want to ask your agency if they can find out if that might be the policy in the orphanage this child is from or in that region...
Could be nothing, or...
The actual presense of Hep C is a whole lot different than the presense of antibodies. The disease itself is not pretty, and you should learn all you can before accepting the referral of a child with the actual virus... I have heard there there are some false positives pretty often, so it is worthwhile to have a retest.

Mom may not have been a drug user. The disease is sexually transmitted as well, and could also have come from tainted blood products, although that is less likely these days.

I hope everything will look brighter once you have the test results, and have time to read up so you can be well-informed.

Best wishes!
HI to the list

Thank you all for taking time to respond. Karen gave me some links to Hep C information which I hope to look at in the next day or so. I dont know much about Hep C(though it sounds scary) and I'm not sure if the baby has the disease or the antibodies. Ill have to check out.

Thanks so much,
Amy K NJ

When babies are first born (and for several months after), they will test positive for the same antibodies the mother had...more often than not, the antibodies will eventually dissapte and a follow-up test will be negative.

People can have Hep C and never have taken drugs...I'm a prime example of this. Four years ago I discovered that I had Hep C and I have never taken any form of drugs. I did, however, have a blood transfusion when I was 12 years old (back in 1972). Hep C was not officially identified until around 1990 even though it has existed for more than a century...it was another year or two before they had a test to check for the Hep C virus in the blood. Consequently, when anyone donated blood the virus could not be detected and it was passed on to the blood recipient (i.e. me).

Hep C is a virus...much like HIV is a virus...only even more prevelant. More than 4 million people in the U.S. are infected with Hep C...that's more than twice the number infected with the HIV virus. While drug users certainly have a higher incident of either virus...anyone that had a blood transfusion prior to the early 1990's is at high risk of being infected with Hep C.

Hep C is not a death sentence...approximately 20% of the people that contract it will "throw it off"...they will still have the virus antibodies in their bloodstream but not have the active virus. Of the others, approximately 20% will develop serious cirrhosis (or scarring) of the liver which keeps the liver from functioning properly...many of this 20% will die from complications of the cirrhosis unless they have a liver transplant.

Unfortunately, there are very few symptoms of Hep C...most people (up to 80%) of those infected don't even know it. And unless they are in the unlucky bunch that have the virus progress to cirrhosis (which takes n average 30 YEARS), they may never know. Currently, the blood test for Hep C is not given unless someone donates blood or there is a suspicion that they might have it (i.e. they are in a high risk group).

Fortunately, when my Hep C was detected (with a detailed blood workup when I was undergoing fertility treatments), I was found to have minimal scarring of the liver - even though I must have had the virus for 28 years. Because of good insurance, I was able to go through the very expensive, long (48 weeks) and not fun chemo-treatment in an attempt to get rid of the virus. I was one of the lucky 70% that the treatment works for and today, my blood work shows no viral load whatsoever (although I will always carry the Hep C antibodies that my body created to try and fight the virus...much like someone that once had mono will always have mono antibodies in their system).

Anyway...long answer to a short question...the fact that your baby had a positive Hep C test for antibodies (which is all they would have tested for...not for the full blown virus because that test is much more expensive), is not a guarantee that the mother was a drug user...certainly possible, and maybe even likely, but by no means a guaranteed thing. And it definitely does not mean that she was using drugs while she was pregnant...she could have had the virus for years prior to the pregnancy. It is something to ask questions about (with regards to the effect the drugs may have had on the baby). And, if the baby does indeed have the virus (about 5-10% of birth mothers will transmit the virus to their children during childbirth), it certainly isn't a kiss of death.

There are treatments...not 100% successful yet but they are getting better all the time (as little as 10 years ago, the treatment was only 35% successfull in ridding the body of the virus...now, it's up to 65 or 70%.) If your baby, does have the virus...you can deal with it if you have too. I would be more concerned about possible effects of drug usage during the pregnancy...look for those types of signs and don't worry too much about the Hep C.

Regardless, best of luck to you!


Tim and Allie's Mama
Vladivostok 03/2003
Nancy, Thanks for sharing with us your information, and your very personal story. I have a good friend who also contracted Hep C from a blood transfusion that she received during childbirth 15 years ago. For her, it has been a very frightening story. I wonder how well the blood supply in Russia is screened these days, and how long they have been screening it there...?
Hi Nancy and to everyone else,

Thanks very much for answering my questions re: hepatitis C.

I'm sorry to hear you had to deal with the disease Nancy, but so glad that you responded well to the treatment and are doing much better.

I dont know if the baby tested positive for the disease or the antibodies. I honestly didnt know much about Hep C. I will find out from the doctor later this week when we get a copy of the retest from Russia. I'm feeling tense about what will happen with this referral, but I'm taking it a day at a time.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Amy K, NJ
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