Health Department Shares Information to Prevent Perinatal Hepatitis B Transmission in High Risk Infants
(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – The Tuscarawas County Health Department is working to bring awareness to Hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby.
Officials explained that Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease resulting from an infection with hepatitis B virus. The virus can spread from an infected mother to her newborn baby during either a vaginal delivery or a c-section. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines state that every pregnant woman should be tested for the virus early during a prenatal visit, even if they have been previously tested or vaccinated. According to ODH, there are two reasons a baby would be considered “high-risk” for hepatitis B.
1.) Baby is born to a mother known to have hepatitis B
2.) The mother’s hepatitis B status at delivery of the baby is unknown
Babies identified as “high-risk” should receive two shots within 12 hours after birth to help prevent the baby from getting hepatitis B. One is the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine, and the second is the HBIG (hepatitis B immune globulin). HBIG gives the baby’s body extra help to fight the virus at birth. Babies not identified as “high-risk” will only receive the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth. All babies need to finish their hepatitis B vaccine series of 3 to 4 shots, depending on the vaccine brand. The second dose is given at 1-2 months of age, and the third is given at 6-18 months of age. High-risk babies who received HBIG at birth will need blood testing at 9-12 months of age, or 1 month after the final dose of hepatitis B vaccine, to check that the baby is protected and does not have hepatitis B.
Between 2014 and 2017, Tuscarawas County had 5 cases of babies at high risk for perinatal hepatitis B transmission. According to the CDC, babies infected with hepatitis B are 90% more likely to develop a lifelong, chronic infection with the potential of causing serious health problems, such as liver damage, liver disease, and even liver cancer. All of which can be prevented with proper prenatal identification and postnatal care.
The Tuscarawas County Health Department Communicable Disease Nurse works with ODH, OB providers, hospitals, and pediatricians to ensure the guidelines are followed in preventing perinatal hepatitis B transmission in high-risk infants. “In our efforts to prevent, promote, and protect, we share this valuable information with you to keep our next generations thriving and in the best health imaginable! As a Public Health entity, we are here to serve you,” added TCHD officials.