The U.S. rate of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is on the upswing, particularly in Kentucky, MedPage Today reports. Publishing their findings in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC researchers analyzed birth certificates and hep C testing data from Quest Diagnostics, spanning 2011 to 2014.

During the period studied, the annual rate of infants born to HCV-positive women rose 68 percent, from 0.19 percent to 0.32 percent of newborns. In Kentucky, the rate rose by 124 percent during the same period.

The rate of women of childbearing age testing positive for hep C rose 22 percent nationally and 213 percent in Kentucky during the study period. Among children age 2 and older, the rate rose 14 percent nationally and 151 percent in Kentucky.

Between 2011 and 2014, 777 pregnant women were identified as having hep C. Eighty-four percent of them were white, and 68 percent were in their 20s. Over one third of the women reported a history of using injection drugs.

Transmission of hep C from mother to child is not preventable and occurs at a rate of 5.8 percent. The risk is nearly double for women coinfected with HIV or who have high hep C viral loads. The CDC researchers recommend HCV testing among those with a history of injection drug use, including pregnant women and children born to mothers with hep C.

To read the MedPage Today article, click here.

To read the MMWR, click here.