Hepatitis B poses health risks for pregnant people and their babies. These include virus transmission from parent to newborn, preterm labor, and hepatitis B complications in pregnant people. Testing and prompt treatment can help prevent and manage these risks.
Pregnant individuals with hepatitis B have over a 90% chance of passing this infection to their newborn babies if they do not receive proper treatment at the time of birth.
Screening these individuals for hepatitis B dramatically reduces transmission to newborns. Rapidly treating infants after delivery also protects them against developing hepatitis B.
This article explores how hepatitis B affects pregnancy, treatment, prevention, and frequently asked questions.
Hepatitis B poses various health risks for pregnant individuals and their babies. We explore this in further detail below.
In pregnant people
Although rare, some individuals
People with hepatitis B are also at
Without treatment, pregnant people with hepatitis B will likely spread the infection to their babies. About
Additionally, researchers have found that hepatitis B infection
- digestive issues
- breathing trouble
- low birth weight
- developmental delays
A blood test can indicate whether certain hepatitis B antigens are present in the bloodstream. An antigen is a substance in the body that stimulates an immune response. Blood tests may also look for hepatitis B antibodies, which the immune system produces to fight infection.
Learn more about the results of hepatitis B tests.
Healthcare professionals may also order genetic testing for hepatitis B during pregnancy. Genetic tests for hepatitis B measure the amount of DNA in the blood that contains hepatitis B.
Individuals with high levels of hepatitis B DNA may require antiviral therapy during pregnancy. Treatment with the antiviral drug tenofovir typically begins at around 28 weeks of pregnancy. This treatment may continue throughout pregnancy or for a few months after delivery.
In certain cases, pregnancy
Immediately after delivery, newborns should receive certain medications to protect them from hepatitis B.
These include the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine and a dose of hepatitis B immune globulin. Infants who receive both of these medications upon delivery have over a 90% chance of avoiding hepatitis B infection.
Learn more about the benefits of the hepatitis B vaccine for newborns.
Pregnant individuals with hepatitis B should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about postpartum care. Close monitoring of these individuals and their infants is crucial for protecting them from hepatitis B complications.
Current guidelines recommend monitoring individuals with hepatitis B for 6 months following delivery. During this period, doctors will look for any signs of active hepatitis B or liver damage.
The hepatitis B vaccine has an excellent safety record. Its most common side effect is soreness around the site of injection.
Learn more about the hepatitis B vaccine and possible side effects.
Avoiding common modes of hepatitis B transmission can also decrease the risk of acquiring this infection. This virus may spread through:
- sex with an individual who has hepatitis B
- exposure to needles or blood containing hepatitis B
- travel in countries with large rates of hepatitis B transmission
Individuals who believe they may be at risk of hepatitis B should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more.
Learn more about hepatitis B carriers and preventing transmission.
Here are some frequently asked questions about hepatitis B in pregnancy.
Can hepatitis B cause birth defects?
There is no evidence to suggest that hepatitis B causes congenital anomalies, also called birth defects. A study of pregnant individuals with hepatitis B identified congenital anomalies in up to 2% of infants.
According to the CDC,
Is hepatitis B safe in pregnancy?
Pregnant individuals with hepatitis B have over a 90% chance of passing the virus to their newborn.
Getting tested for hepatitis B early in pregnancy is crucial for protecting parents and infants. With the right support, both parent and baby can avoid serious complications.
Hepatitis B is an infection that affects the liver. Pregnant individuals with hepatitis B have a high chance of passing this infection to their newborn. Infants born with hepatitis B can experience negative health effects if they do not receive treatment.
During pregnancy, antiviral medications can help reduce a parent’s viral load. And treatments immediately after delivery can protect newborns from developing hepatitis B.
With testing and prompt treatment, both parent and baby can avoid serious health outcomes of hepatitis B infection. A person can speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about managing hepatitis B during and after pregnancy.