Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections lead to tens of thousands of deaths annually, mostly in developing countries. Hepatitis E poses a significant threat to the health of expectant mothers, a well-noted epidemiologic feature of the disease, but the contribution of vertically transmitted HEV infection to fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality has received limited attention. Evidence assembled to date suggests that mother-to-child HEV transmission may be frequent and deleterious to the fetus and newborn in pregnancies affected by hepatitis E. Additional work is required to resolve key questions. (1) What risks do subclinical maternal HEV infections and infections early in pregnancy pose to fetal health and development? (2) Does vertical transmission occur during labor and/or breastfeeding and contribute appreciably to neonatal morbidity and mortality? (3) How do treatment decisions for severely ill mothers affect fetal and neonatal outcomes? (4) Can maternal vaccination effectively prevent vertical transmission of HEV?
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases