Perinatal Hepatitis B Program
MAHA’s Perinatal Hepatitis B Program (PHBP) is to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B virus from infected mothers to newborn infants and ensure infants who are exposed to Hepatitis B are identified, vaccinated, tested, and given timely treatments if needed.
How to Protect Your Baby from Hepatitis
- If you are pregnant, get tested for Hepatitis B.
- If your Hepatitis B test is positive, ask your doctor if you need treatment.
- If your Hepatitis B test is negative, and you don't have immunity, get the Hepatitis B shots.
- Make sure your baby gets the Hepatitis B shot and test on time. It is safe to breastfeed your baby even if you have Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B and Pregnancy
All pregnant women should get a blood test for hepatitis B as part of their prenatal care. Hepatitis B can be easily passed from a pregnant woman with hepatitis B to her baby at birth. This can happen during a vaginal delivery or a c-section. If you have hepatitis B, health care providers can give your baby a set of shots at birth to prevent your baby from getting infected.
This program is made possible through funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
Q: Why should pregnant women be concerned about hepatitis B?
A: Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease that can be easily transmitted to others. It is very important for pregnant women to know if they have hepatitis B, because pregnant women with hepatitis B may transmit the virus to their babies during delivery. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can help prevent hepatitis B in infants.
Q: What is hepatitis B?
A: Hepatitis B is an infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. After being infected with hepatitis B, the virus will remain in the infected person for life, and thus can cause serious liver problems and even liver cancer.
Q: Should I be tested for hepatitis B if I am pregnant?
A: Yes, all pregnant women should be tested for hepatitis B! Pregnant women infected with hepatitis B can transmit the virus to their newborns during pregnancy or childbirth. Without preventive measures, nearly 90% of newborns will be chronically infected with hepatitis B.
Q: What are some other ways hepatitis B can be transmitted?
A: The hepatitis B virus can also be transmitted through blood, semen, or other fluids from the infected carrier into an otherwise healthy person. The virus is extremely transmissible and can easily be passed via open wounds on the skin or areas of soft tissue such as the mouth, eyes, and nose. Contact with the blood of a hepatitis B carrier (even if the blood volume is so small that it is difficult to detect with the naked eye) can also cause infection. Beyond these methods of transmission, sexual intercourse with a virus carrier can also cause hepatitis B virus infection.
Q: Can doctors help prevent hepatitis B in infants?
A: Yes, infants born with the hepatitis B virus must receive two injections shortly after birth. The first is the hepatitis B vaccine and the other is called HBIG (This shot promotes the body’s resistance level against viral infections in the early stages of life after birth. Only infants whose mothers are hepatitis B positive need to be injected with HBIG).