May 11, 2017
Rural parts of Tennessee have been hit hard by a nationwide rise in Hepatitis C infections in pregnant women, likely a result of the opioid abuse epidemic, according to new study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Tennessee Department of Health.
The presence of Hepatitis C at birth increased 89 percent to 3.4 per 1,000 live births from 2009 to 2014. Tennessee had nearly three times hepatitis C in 2014 — at 10.1 per 1,000 live births, per the study.
West Virginia, which has been ravaged by opioids, had the highest rate at 22.6 per live births.
The odds of a hepatitis C infection at birth was about three times higher for women in rural counties, according to the study.
Dr. Stephen Patrick, co-lead author and pediatric health policy expert at VUMC, said the increase in infections present at birth did not begin in a vacuum and is likely tied to the rise opioid addiction and abuse.
Read the full story on the Tennessean.
Holly Fletcher covers health care for the Tennessean’s business desk, working to explain how the changing health care landscape will impact the people who need health care (everyone) and the businesses that provide care.