Perinatal Hepatitis B Virus Infection
Infectious agent: Hepatitis B virus
Description of illness: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a pregnant woman poses a serious risk to her infant at birth. Without post exposure prophylaxis, approximately 40% of infants born to HBV-infected mothers in the United States will develop chronic HBV infection, approximately one-fourth of whom will eventually die from chronic liver disease. Perinatal HBV transmission can be prevented by identifying HBV-infected pregnant women and providing hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine to their infants within 12 hours of birth. After completion of the hepatitis B vaccine series, it is recommended that serologic testing be done at or above age 9 months to verify immunity or detect asymptomatic infection. Persons infected in infancy are typically asymptomatic until adulthood when signs and symptoms of chronic liver disease or cancer may appear.