Perinatal Hepatitis B

Perinatal Hepatitis B

Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program

The mission of the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program is to increase identification and treatment of women, their infants, and household contacts that are positive for the hepatitis B virus. The ultimate goal, of course, is to eliminate perinatal (during pregnancy) hepatitis B virus infection in Utah.

The program provides case management and follow-up for pregnant women and their infants who are positive for the hepatitis B virus. Infants and all household members can receive free hepatitis B vaccine and blood testing after receipt of the vaccine.

Prenatal testing for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is recommended for all pregnant women to identify newborns at risk for perinatal hepatitis B virus infection. This testing should be conducted during an early prenatal visit in every pregnancy.

Prenatal testing can identify hepatitis B carriers and ensure their infants receive appropriate medical attention (hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine). Children born to hepatitis B infected mothers who are not previously identified are at high risk for infection through person-to-person transmission during the first five years of their lives.

Infants infected during pregnancy are also at increased risk for developing chronic liver disease such as cirrhosis (liver scarring) or liver cancer later in life. Up to 25% of infants infected perinatally will die of chronic liver disease as adults. The majority of infant infections may be avoided through appropriate maternal screening and infant treatment.

For more information on the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program, please contact the Utah Department of Health, Immunization Program, 801-538-9450.