Safety in Lactation: Viral hepatitis

Laura Kearney, Regional Principal Medicines Information Pharmacist, Midlands and East Medicines Advice Service (East Midlands site) & UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory ServicePublished

Hepatitis B: Women infected with hepatitis B can breastfeed and this does not confer any additional risk for the transmission of hepatitis B.
Infants of infected mothers should receive a course of hepatitis B vaccine soon after birth. In most cases the infant will also need to receive hepatitis B immunoglobulin.
Lamivudine or tenofovir are considered the antivirals of choice if clinically appropriate.
Hepatitis C: Treatment of hepatitis C depends on the infecting genotype and viral load.
The Department of Health advise that breastfeeding by a mother with hepatitis C is not contra-indicated, as long as the mother is HIV-negative. However, drug safety during breastfeeding must also be taken into account.