Hepatitis B Vaccination Guidelines for Pregnant Women
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world, caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which are known to attack the cells of the liver cells therefore cause liver failure, cirrhosis (scarring) or cancer of the liver later in life.
The virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.
If I am pregnant, should I be tested for hepatitis B? Yes!
Pregnant women who are infected with hepatitis B could infect their baby during pregnancy or delivery. Up to 90% of these babies will become chronically infected with hepatitis B at birth if there is no prevention.
ALL pregnant women should be checked and tested for hepatitis B to prevent infection.
What if I test positive for hepatitis B while I am pregnant?
If you are pregnant woman and you have a positive test for hepatitis B infection, you would need to see a liver specialist for further evaluation. However most of the women would not have any pregnancy complications as a result of HBV infection, it is always better to get checked up.
How can I protect my newborn from hepatitis B?
If you are pregnant and you test positive for hepatitis B, your newborn child must be given two shots in the delivery room – the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine and one dose of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG). If these two medications are given correctly within the first 12 hours of life, it gives the newborn a better chance , actually a 95% chance of being protected against a lifelong hepatitis B infection. However, the baby would need additional doses of hepatitis B vaccine at one and six months of age to provide complete protection.
If your baby does not receive these drugs at the appropriate times, then there is a greater than 90% possibility that your baby could become chronically infected. **There is no second chance!**
It is vitally important that all newborns be vaccinated at birth against hepatitis B!
Can I breastfeed my baby if I am infected with hepatitis B?
The WHO and the CDC has declared it safe for an infected woman to breastfeed her child. All women with hepatitis B are encouraged to breastfeed their babies since the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the potential risk of transmitting the virus through breast milk. In addition, since all newborns should receive the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, the risk of transmission is therefore even reduced further.
How will I know if I am infected with hepatitis B?
***All pregnant women should be tested for hepatitis B.***
The 3-part hepatitis B blood panel includes the following:
1. Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg): The “surface antigen” is part of the hepatitis B virus that is found in the blood of someone who is infected. If this test is positive, then the hepatitis B virus is present.
2. Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (HBsAb or anti-HBs): The “surface antibody“ is formed in response to the hepatitis B virus. Your body can make this antibody if you have been vaccinated, or if you have recovered from a hepatitis B infection. If this test is positive, then your immune system has successfully developed a protective antibody against the hepatitis B virus. This will provide long-term protection against future hepatitis B infection.
3. Hepatitis B Core Antibody (HBcAb or anti-HBc): This antibody does not provide any protection or immunity against the hepatitis B virus. A positive test indicates that a person may have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus. This test is often used by blood banks to screen blood donations. However, all three test results are needed to make a diagnosis.
How do I protect my child if another family member is infected with hepatitis B?
Babies and children can be exposed to HBV from an infected dad, sibling, or other family member living in the same household. This can occur through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Vaccination is the best prevention against spreading the hepatitis B virus!
How can I prevent getting hepatitis B if someone in my household is infected?the recommendation is that anyone living in a household with an infected family member should be
Until your vaccine series is complete, it is important to avoid sharing any sharp instruments such as razors, toothbrushes, or earrings, etc. since small amounts of blood can be exchanged through these items. Also, infected individuals should be careful to keep all cuts properly covered. Blood spills should be cleaned with gloves and a 10% bleach/water solution.
Hepatitis B is not transmitted casually and it cannot be spread through sneezing, coughing, hugging, or eating food prepared by someone who is infected with Hepatitis B.
Get checked out. People perish not because of lack, but lack of knowledge.