Disease Information - Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major cause of acute and chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and primary hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). It is the most prevalent chronic infectious disease in the world, a common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and a major health problem in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B and more than 600,000 people die every year due to complications of hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Although postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) is highly effective, approximately 1% of infants who receive PEP will still develop HBV infection and up to 5% may remain susceptible to infection. Ninety percent of infants who become infected during childhood will become chronically infected, thereby increasing their risk of early onset cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Of children who become infected with HBV before 5 years of age, 30%-50% become chronically infected.

Disease Prevention

Perinatal hepatitis B is preventable by:

  • Screening pregnant women at the first prenatal visit and at delivery
  • Giving the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) to babies born to HBsAg- positive women within 12 hours of delivery
  • Giving the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine to all babies before hospital discharge as a safety net

Program Goals

The purpose of the Texas Department of State Health Services' Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program (PHBPP) is to:

  • Identify hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive pregnant women;
  • Ensure that infants of HBsAg-positive pregnant women receive hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) and hepatitis B vaccine at birth;
  • Ensure that infants complete the hepatitis B vaccine series and serological testing;
  • Identify household and sexual contacts to HBsAg positive mothers;
  • Vaccinate at risk contacts and conduct serological testing.