(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – 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 Tuscarawas County Health Department is sharing guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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 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.
The Tuscarawas County Health Department Perinatal Hepatitis B Case Manager works with ODH, OB providers, hospitals, and pediatricians to ensure the guidelines are followed in preventing perinatal hepatitis B transmission in high risk infants. For more information please see the following website links for the CDC and ODH.