During childbirth, hepatitis B can be transmitted from the mother to the new-born child which can lead to the child having a chronic hepatitis B infection. In most cases, however, this can be avoided by vaccinating the child against hepatitis B as soon as it is born. This first vaccination is followed up by another one at age 1 month. After this, vaccination against hepatitis B is part of the regular vaccination programme for children of 3, 5 and 12 months of age.
In some cases, a child is also given immunoglobulin (hepatitis B antibodies) after birth. So that the child receives the right treatment after birth, it is important that your hepatitis B-infection is monitored by an infection specialist during your pregnancy. This doctor will recommend the treatment most suitable for your new-born child. If the level of hepatitis B virus in your blood is very high, you may need medication during the late stages of your pregnancy. This will reduce the risk of hepatitis B being passed on to your baby.
It is very important that every vaccination is given at the right time in order for your child to be properly protected against hepatitis B. Breast-feeding is then safe and involves no risk of transmitting the infection.
When your child reaches the age of 13-18 months, a blood sample will be taken to check if the vaccinations have had the desired effect and the infection has not been transmitted. You will be given a time and place for this when you visit BVC (the Child Health Centre). It is important that the child has a blood test before starting at pre-school.
Other family members should also be vaccinated against hepatitis B if they are not already immune to the disease. This can be carried out at the infection clinic you will be told to go to. Just like the vaccination of new-born babies, vaccination of other family members will cost you nothing.
Hepatitis B is a chronic infection which affects the liver. It is therefore also important that you keep going for check-ups even after your pregnancy ends. The infection clinic will make appointments for you. If you move to another part of the country, ask the doctor at the infection clinic to refer you to the infection clinic closest to where you are going to live.