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Effects on the pregnancy
The word 'hepatitis' means an infection or inflammation of the liver. If the liver becomes inflamed due to an infection with a virus it is called 'viral hepatitis'. However, the liver can also become inflamed through excessive alcohol intake or by taking certain medications or being exposed to certain chemicals.
Some viral hepatitis infections only cause a temporary dysfunction of the liver, while others can cause permanent liver damage (called 'cirrhosis'). In some cases, a small number of people with cirrhosis may eventually experience liver failure or liver cancer later in life. However, this will depend on the type of hepatitis involved.
There are 3 main types of viral hepatitis. These are:
Hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Hepatitis A or 'hep A' is the most common type of hepatitis. It is transmitted by coming in contact with contaminated faeces (bowel motions) through water supplies, foods washed in contaminated water or eating utensils handled by the unwashed hands of an infected person. Some people become infected with the virus through occupational exposure by working with sewerage, handling the faeces of patients in hostels or hospitals or changing babies in childcare settings. Hepatitis A does not cause long term liver problems and there are vaccinations available if you feel you are at risk of coming in contact with the virus. Many people are vaccinated as a precaution before travelling overseas (especially to developing countries).
Hepatitis B virus (HBV).