Hepatitis B Prevention and Pregnancy
Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases
National Center for Infectious Diseases
July 1, 1994
Table of Contents
HBV attacks and destroys the liver, which is such an important organ that you cannot live without it.
Hepatitis B may cause
Pregnant women may have HBV in their blood without knowing it and can pass it on to their babies at birth. Many of these babies develop lifelong HBV infections and can pass the virus on to others throughout their lives. At first, babies may not look or feel sick, but as they grow up, they may have liver damage. About 25% of babies who develop lifelong HBV infections die of liver disease or liver cancer.
HBV is spread from person to person by direct contact with infected blood or body fluids. Even small amounts of infected blood can cause infection.
HBV infection can be spread by
You are at increased risk for hepatitis B if
Some people who have hepatitis B have no symptoms and may not know they are infected. Others who are infected with HBV never fully recover and carry the virus in their blood for the rest of their lives. These people are known as carriers, and they can infect other household and sexual contacts throughout their lives.
Get a blood test at your clinic or doctor's office. If the test is positive, the doctor or nurse will tell you how to take care of yourself and how to prevent infecting your baby and others.
A safe vaccine has been used since 1982 to prevent hepatitis B. The vaccine is given in a series of three shots. If you have HBV infection, your baby will get the first shot within 12 hours of birth, along with another shot, hepatitis B immune globulin. The next two shots of hepatitis B vaccine will be given along with other baby shots. All other members of your household should get a blood test for hepatitis B. If the blood test is negative, hepatitis B vaccine should be given to the other household members.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants to protect them from becoming infected with HBV. If your blood test for hepatitis B is negative, your baby will still receive the hepatitis B vaccine series with other baby shots, but will not need a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin. The baby may get the first shot either before leaving the hospital or with the first baby shots at the doctor's office or clinic. Ask your doctor or nurse when the next shots need to be given.
Contact your local health department or call the CDC Hepatitis Hotline (404) 332-4555. Hepatitis Branch Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.
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DIVISION OF VIRAL & RICKETTSIAL DISEASES
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