Keeping your newborn free from Hepatitis B

New guidelines have been released to decrease the transmission of hepatitis B virus infection from an infected mother to the child during pregnancy.

Hepatitis B virus infection causes inflammation of the liver with long-term effects of liver cirrhosis and or liver cancer. The virus is transmitted by infected mothers to the baby while in the uterus during pregnancy.

To reduce the transmission of Hepatitis B virus, the following guideline was proposed.

  1. Test all pregnant women at the first antenatal visit for Hepatitis B infection by checking Hepatitis B antigen (HBsAg) blood test.
  2. Pregnant women who test positive for HBsAg-positive should be tested for hepatitis B virus deoxyribonucleic acid (HBV DNA) to determine the hepatitis B viral load.
  3. Infants born to mothers with Hepatitis B infection should receive Hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of birth.
  4. If the mother’s status is unknown, infants should receive hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth, followed by hepatitis B immune globulin as soon as possible (but not later than 7 days after birth) if the mother tests positive for HBsAg.
  5. Women who test positive for hepatitis should be referred to Gastroenterologist or Hepatologist for treatment.
  6. The panel also recommends tenofovir as the antiviral of choice in women with chronic hepatitis B and HBV levels >200,000 IU/mL.
  7. Women who are positive for hepatitis B should be counselled about the prevention of hepatitis B transmission in sex partners and household contacts.

Take-home point:

Test all pregnant women for hepatitis B antigen (HBsAg).


US Preventive Services Task Force , et al. (n.d.). Screening for Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Pregnant Women: US Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from


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