Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection in Newborns
Newborns may become infected at birth or rarely after birth.
Newborns who develop symptoms have jaundice, lethargy, and failure to thrive.
The diagnosis is typically based on blood tests.
Children are at risk of liver problems later in life.
The hepatitis B vaccine and sometimes hepatitis B immune globulin are given to newborns to protect them against the infection.
Hepatitis B is a type of hepatitis virus newborns can contract and is a cause of great concern in newborns.
The infection occurs during delivery if the mother is infected. However, newborns may become infected after birth from other sources, such as the mother's saliva, stool, urine, or breast milk.
Most newborns who have hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection have no symptoms at birth but continue to carry the infection in their bodies.
Many newborns born to women who have acute hepatitis B during pregnancy have a low birth weight, regardless of whether they are infected.
Infrequently, infected newborns develop acute hepatitis B, which is usually mild and goes away without treatment. They develop jaundice (a yellow color of the skin or eyes), lethargy, failure to thrive, a swollen abdomen, and clay-colored stools. Rarely, the infection is severe and causes death.
Doctors treat the problems caused by hepatitis B virus infection. It is especially important for affected newborns to receive good nutrition.
All newborns, whether or not infected, are given the first dose of the hepatitis B virus vaccine before they are discharged from the hospital.
Newborns born to an infected mother are also given hepatitis B immune globulin, a preparation of antibodies against hepatitis B. The first dose of the vaccine and the immune globulin are given within 12 hours of birth.