Pregnant Women and Hepatitis B
Should I get tested for hepatitis B if I am pregnant?
pregnant women should be tested by their doctors. But women of
Asian descent must be tested since they are at much higher risk
for hepatitis B infection.
If I am pregnant, should I get vaccinated?
Talk to your doctor
about the hepatitis B vaccine. If your blood tests show that
you do not have hepatitis B, then he or she may want to wait
until after the baby is born. If your husband or sexual partner
has hepatitis B, if you live in close contact with a family member
who has hepatitis B, or you have a job that places you at high
risk for infection, then your doctor may want to start the vaccine.
But this is a decision you must make with your doctor.
If I have hepatitis B, will my unborn baby be affected?
B does not usually affect the health of your unborn baby. And
most pregnant women with hepatitis B do not have any problems.
But, it is important for the doctor to know whether you have
hepatitis B so they can watch you closely throughout your pregnancy.
If I have hepatitis B, how can I infect my newborn baby?
can pass the virus on to your newborn baby during delivery. When
a woman goes into labor, there is a massive exchange of blood
-- the virus is passed in the mother's blood to the newborn through
the umbilical cord. The blood exchange occurs before delivery.
Therefore, you cannot prevent infecting your newborn by choosing
to have a C-section. The hepatitis B virus is passed whether
you give birth naturally or through surgery.
Why is it so serious if my newborn is infected with hepatitis
Newborns who are exposed to hepatitis B have more than a 90%
chance of becoming chronically infected. Their immune systems
are not able to get rid of the virus, so they can become a "chronic
carrier". This means the virus stays in their liver for
a long time. They can pass the virus on to others. They will
also live with a greater chance of developing serious liver disease
later in life
If I have hepatitis B, what can I do to protect my newborn?
good news is that there is a vaccine to protect your newborn
baby. But you have to make your newborn is vaccinated in the
* Make sure to remind your doctor several weeks before you
deliver to order the hepatitis B vaccine and if possible, one
dose of hepatitis B immuneglobulin (HBiG). Your doctor has many
things on his mind, so he may forget to order these drugs. If
the HBiG drug is not available, don't get upset. HBiG is a drug
that can help increase the effectiveness of the vaccine, but
it is not as important as the vaccine itself.
* Tell your doctor that you want the hepatitis B vaccine and
HBiG to be given to your baby in the delivery room. This request
is to make certain the doctor or nurse doesn't forget to give
your new baby the two drugs right after delivery. Ask your partner
or husband to make sure that these drugs are given since you
may be too tired to ask.
Why should my baby be vaccinated in the delivery room?
To protect your baby from a chronic infection, the vaccine must
be given within the FIRST 12 HOURS OF LIFE. This is a very small
window of opportunity. You don't get a second chance! If the
vaccine is given within the first 12 hours of life, then your
baby has a greater than 95% chance of being protected from the
hepatitis B virus. If the vaccine is not given correctly, then
your baby will most likely become chronically infected with hepatitis
B for a lifetime.