WHAT IS IT?
Hepatitis B (Hep B) is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Up to 1.4 million people in the United States have chronic Hep B.
HBV infection in a pregnant woman poses a serious risk to her infant at birth. Transmission of Hepatitis B from mother to child can happen during a vaginal delivery or C-section. Without post exposure immunoprophylaxis, approximately 40% of infants born to HBV-infected mothers in the United States will develop chronic HBV infection. Approximately one-fourth of whom will eventually die from chronic liver disease.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
Perinatal HBV transmission can be prevented by identifying HBV-infected pregnant women and providing hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine to their infants within 12 hours of birth.
Currently to help prevent the transmission of Hepatitis B from mother to child:
- Universal screening of pregnant women for HBsAg during each pregnancy
- Case management of HBsAg-positive mothers and their infants
- Provision of immunoprophylaxis for infants born to infected mothers, including hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of being born
- Routine vaccination of all infants with the hepatitis B vaccine series, with the first dose administered at birth followed by completion of the hepatitis B vaccine series and post-vaccination serologic testing at 9-12 months of age.
Hepatitis B is not spread by breastfeeding so you may breast-feed your baby safely, even before he/she becomes vaccinated. Mothers should take good care of their nipples to avoid cracking and bleeding
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information about immunizations, visit our Immunizations page