What is Hepatitis B?
“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. When a person becomes infected, the Hepatitis B virus can stay in his/her body for the rest of life and can cause severe liver problems.
Babies infected with Hepatitis B have a 90% chance of developing a lifelong, chronic infection. You can pass the virus on to your baby if you have hepatitis B during pregnancy. That is why, A routine blood test is performed to detect hepatitis B for all pregnant women. If they have the virus, some simple vaccinations after the birth can protect their baby.
Can Hepatitis B be spread to babies?
Yes. The Hepatitis B virus can be spread to a baby during childbirth. This can happen during a vaginal delivery or a C-section.
CDC recommends that babies get the HBIG shot and the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of being born.
How else is hepatitis B spread?
Hepatitis B can also be spread when blood, semen, or other bodily fluids from an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected. This virus can spread in the following ways:
- Reuse of Infected Injections.
- Having unprotected sex with an infected person.
- Through a needle stick injury. Infected blood can also enter your body through an open cut or scratch.
- By contaminated needles used for tattoos or body-piercing.
- Sharing a toothbrush or razor with someone who has the virus.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Symptoms of hepatitis B may include:
- Flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, aches and pains.
- Stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Loss of appetite
- Itchy Skin
- Jaundice which is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
Why should pregnant women be concerned about Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease that can be easily passed to others. It is important for a woman to find out if she has Hepatitis B, so she can get the best medical care. It is also possible for a pregnant woman with Hepatitis B to pass the virus to her baby at birth. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent babies from getting Hepatitis B.
Can doctors prevent a baby from getting Hepatitis B?
Yes. Babies born to women with Hepatitis B get two shots soon after birth. One is the first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine and the other shot is called HBIG. The two shots help prevent the baby from getting Hepatitis B. The shots work best when they are given within 12 hours after being born.
How many Hepatitis B shots does my baby need?
Your baby will get 3 or 4 shots, depending on which brand of vaccine being used. The first dose is given in the hospital and the next dose is given at 1-2 months of age. The last dose is usually given by the time your baby is one-year-old. Ask your doctor when your baby needs to come back for each shot.
Hepatitis B is not spread by:
- Breastfeeding: It is safe to breastfeed your baby. Hepatitis B do not spread through breast feeding.
- Cooking and eating: It is safe to prepare and eat meals with your family. Hepatitis B is not spread by sharing dishes, cooking or eating utensils, or drinking glasses.
- Hugging and kissing: You can hug and kiss your baby, family members, or others close to you.
- Hepatitis B is not spread through sneezing or coughing.