How does hepatitis B affect the mother and her baby?
As we mentioned in the general post about hepatitis B, individuals may be infected in the acute form or the chronic form. There have been a number of studies evaluating the risks of women who have given birth while they have the chronic form of hepatitis B and the outcomes are inconsistent. While there are a few studies suggesting that chronic hepatitis B increases the risk for gestational diabetes, antepartum hemorrhage, threatened preterm labor, or hepatic decompensation, a number of larger studies have found no significant increased risk for any of these outcomes. Monitoring the chronic disease during pregnancy however is very important in order to recognize outbreaks or reactivation.
What is the recommendation for pregnant women?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the CDC all recommend testing for hepatitis B at the first prenatal visit, regardless of wether the mother has received vaccinations or not. Although the risks of pregnancy and birth are questionable, in the majority of cases a mother with chronic hepatitis B will pass it on to her child if the child is not treated within 12 hours of birth. Appropriate treatment at birth, which includes a passive and active immunization can reduce the infants chances of the infant becoming infected to less than 10% in certain cases, and less than 1% in others. This depends on the types of antibodies the mother has in her bloodstream.
The benefits in this situation backed up by very solid evidence, and there is no serious adverse risks involved in screening for hepatitis B.
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Knowledge is power. It’s very important for each of us to understand what our options are, and what evidence supports each option. Preventing diseases before they start is often the most efficient way to be healthy, and this starts by screening for the diseases that are appropriate for us depending on age, gender, and other factors. Download our app to go through a short list of questions, and receive a personalized list of the appropriate screening recommendations for you. More information about each of these tests is provided through the app, so that you can stay informed and educated.
Here are a few studies which give insight into the efficacy of screening and early treatment for hepatitis B. Feel free to contact us for more information about the matter, we would be happy to provide more information.
Krishnaraj R. Screening for hepatitis B virus infection: a brief evidence update for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2004.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 86: Viral hepatitis in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol2007;110:941-56. [PMID: 17906043]
American Academy of Family Physicians. Summary of recommendations for clinical preventive services. AAFP Policy Action, revision 6.4. Leawood, KS: American Academy of Family Physicians; 2007.