Pregnancy, prevention and hepatitis B Pregnancy, prevention and hepatitis B

All women who are pregnant should get tested for hepatitis B.

This necessary test is especially important for women who belong to high-risk population groups, such as people who work in healthcare, women from ethnic groups where hepatitis B is common, and the wives or partners of those who live with someone who is infected with it.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is an infection that is transmitted through contact with the blood, semen or other fluid of someone who is already infected. This can lead to an acute or chronic hepatitis. Acute hepatitis is short-lived and can be treated in 4 to 6 months. Chronic hepatitis, on the other hand, remains in the body forever and can lead to health problems such as fibrosis, cirrhosis or some forms of cancer.

The Hepatitis B Foundation answers a few common questions about it:

Why are these tests so important for pregnant women?

If you are pregnant and test positive for hepatitis B, the virus can be passed onto your newborn during delivery. If the proper procedures are not followed, the baby will have a 95% chance of developing the condition.

How can I protect my baby?

The newborn should be given two shots immediately after the birth, in the delivery room: the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine and a dose of immunoglobin. If these two medications are administered properly within the first 12 hours after birth, the baby will have over a 90% chance of not developing the infection. At one month and at six months of age, it is important that the baby receive the second and third dose of the vaccine to make sure the child is completely protected.

Can I breastfeed my baby if I have hepatitis B?

The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh its potential risks, which are minimal.

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