Pregnant woman

Hepatitis B: Have no cure but you should know this!

Most times when people test positive for viral hepatitis B; they begin to wonder how they got it? So many questions start to run through their mind. In this article, we are going to discuss mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus infection , how it might be a cause of hepatitis B in people who don’t know how they got the virus, and how it can be prevented.

When Dayo was first told by his Doctor that he was hepatitis B positive, the first questions from him was ” what is hepatitis B? how did I get it? ” he asked.

”Hepatitis B is an infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) transmitted via infected blood and body fluid” he was told.


But how did he get it?

There are several ways a person can contract hepatitis B virus infection, but mother-to-child transmission is one of the most common routes.

When a woman is pregnant, at her first prenatal (during pregnancy) visit to the clinic, she is screened for viral hepatitis B – this ensures early detection.


Why is this important?

It is estimated that 90% of children who contract hepatitis B from their mother during the process of childbirth will go on to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, the risk of mother-to-child transmission is significantly higher in expectant mothers who have plasma HBV DNA levels greater than 2,000 IU/ML and/or are hepatitis B envelope antigen-positive (HBeAg positive).

In the absence of antiviral therapy and immunoprophylaxis (hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immunoglobulin) about 70% to 90% of babies born to hepatitis B envelope positive (HBeAg positive), mothers might become positive for hepatitis B.


What can a family do to prevent their infant from getting infected with hepatitis B, if a mother is hepatitis B positive?

First, ensure an expectant mother get screened for hepatitis B and knows her status before term.

Secondly, antiviral therapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission should be initiated according to experts during week 28 to 32 of gestation, if a mother HBV DNA level is greater than 200,000 IU/mL and it should be discontinued at delivery, however, there are other factors to be considered.

Additionally, positive women who don’t meet the above criteria should monitor their status by doing a liver function test every 3 months during pregnancy and every 6 months after giving birth – the level of Alanine aminotransferase enzyme (ALT) has a lot to reveal.

Lastly, the baby should receive birth dose hepatitis B vaccination and hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) within 12 hours of birth: this reduces the risk of a baby contracting hepatitis B by at least 92%.

In conclusion, chances are high Dayo must have gotten hepatitis B as a child from his infected mother, his condition was asymptomatic, and he got to discover his status 20 to 30 years later.


For enquiry contact Inocul8:

Mobile/WhatsApp: 08160962414

Email: [email protected]

Dr. Emmanuel Egbroko


Dr. Emmanuel Egbroko is a Clinician with over 10 years experience in the infectious disease space. He specializes in the field of infectious diseases, vaccinology, and immunology. He leads the vaccine unit at the Inocul8 Medvacc Family Immunization Clinic, Lagos State, Nigeria.

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