Protecting the next generation from Hepatitis B

July 30, 2020

Protecting the next generation from Hepatitis B
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Children today can be protected against many diseases through timely vaccination. Many diseases such as smallpox have been eradicated from the world because of successful global vaccination programmes. Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening disease that can cause liver cell death and scarring leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis B in babies born to hepatitis B positive mothers

Hepatitis B spreads through direct contact with infected blood and body fluids. It can also spread from infected mother to baby during child-birth.Hepatitis B infection can be an acute, short term illness with your body successfully eliminating the hepatitis B virus in a few months. Though some people may have some long-term liver damage, a majority of the infected people have no lasting effects.

When your body is not able to successfully eliminate the virus even after 6 months, then you have chronic hepatitis B infection. This means you will have the virus in your body longer, probably for life. You may have symptoms such as jaundice, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite etc. for life. Chronic infection is more dangerous than acute infection as it causes more damage to the liver as the virus remains in your liver longer. The risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer are higher with a chronic hepatitis B infection.

A baby born to a hepatitis B positive mother develops a chronic infection. The baby will have the virus in the liver for life and will face serious complications as he/ she grows older.

This can be prevented with a vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccine for complete protection

Hepatitis B vaccine is the safest way to protect children from hepatitis B infection. The schedule varies slightly for babies born to hepatitis B positive women and for babies born to women without infection.

If mother is not hepatitis B positive

1st dose within 24 hours after birth

2nd dose at 1-2 months of age

3rd dose at 6-18 months of age

If mother is hepatitis B positive

1st dose within 12 hours after birth

This should be followed by Hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) to provide immediate protection

2nd dose at 1-2 months of age

3rd dose at 6-18 months of age

Hepatitis B vaccine provides long-term protection against infection. Infants who get the hepatitis vaccine series are protected from infection. It also protects them against hepatitis D infection as you can only pick up hepatitis D infection if you have or have had hepatitis B infection.

Many dangerous diseases such as whooping cough, tetanus, polio etc. have been controlled through effective global vaccination drives. Currently there are millions affected by hepatitis B and are unaware of it. As they do not get tested,they come to know of their illness only when they develop serious liver damage. Each year millions die due to complications of hepatitis B infection. This can be prevented through vaccination.

Rela Hospital is a world-renowned liver care centre with one of the best liver transplant services. Our paediatric liver services provide comprehensive care for newborns and infants. Rare infant liver conditions are successfully diagnosed and treated successfully.

For comprehensive liver care contact our liver specialists.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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