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Division of Disease Control

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Perinatal Hepatitis

If you have hepatitis B or C and are pregnant, hepatitis can be passed to your baby at birth. This is known as perinatal hepatitis.

There are ways to prevent your infant from getting perinatal hepatitis B. There is no current way to prevent your infant from getting perinatal hepatitis C, but there are steps you can take to keep them healthy.

If you are pregnant and have tested positive for hepatitis B or C, you can get help from Philadelphia’s Viral Hepatitis Surveillance & Prevention Program. We will work with you, your doctor, and your child’s doctor to make sure you and your child get the right tests, shots, and treatments. We will help from pregnancy until your child is tested and their hepatitis care is complete.


What should I do if I am pregnant and I have hepatitis B or C?

  • Most importantly, tell your doctor! Your prenatal provider needs to know about your hepatitis to provide you and your newborn the best care.
    • If you don’t know if you have hepatitis B or C, ask to be tested by your prenatal provider.

  • Get tested to see if you have a higher risk of transmitting hepatitis B or C to your infant.

  • See a specialist for your hepatitis B or C.
    • If you have hepatitis B, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to put you on treatment in your third trimester.
      • It is important to have regular visits with a hepatitis B specialist.
    • If you have hepatitis C, you can start the process of getting on treatment after delivery and be cured of the infection.

What can I do to stop passing hepatitis to my child?

If I have hepatitis B:

  • The only way to prevent hepatitis B is with a safe vaccine that should be given to all infants at birth.
  • There are three shots (given over six months) of the hepatitis B vaccine. They can protect your baby for life.
  • If you have hepatitis B, your baby should also receive hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIg) at birth to fully protect them from getting hepatitis B. If a baby does not get HBIg and hepatitis B vaccine at birth, there is a four in 10 chance the infant will become infected with hepatitis B.
  • At nine months, your child will need to be tested to see if they have hepatitis B and if the vaccine is protecting them from getting hepatitis B in the future.
    • If your child does have the hepatitis B infection, you should take them to see a specialist doctor for their hepatitis B.
    • They can be treated when they are older.
  • Talk to your doctor and the infant’s pediatrician about your hepatitis B infection.

If I have hepatitis C:

  • There is no intervention to stop passing hepatitis C to your infant, but there are things to do to help
  • Your child should be tested to see if they got the infection. It will take until after they are one year old to know for certain if they have the infection.
    • If your child does have hepatitis C, you should take them to see a specialist. doctor for their hepatitis C
    • They can be treated and cured when they are older.
  • Cesarean sections are not recommended to prevent transmission to an infant.
  • Medicines used to treat hepatitis C in children and adults are not recommended for use in pregnancy or in young children.
  • To prevent future infants from becoming infected, a mother can be treated after childbirth and cured of her hepatitis C infection. This will protect her future children from risk.

What are the chances my child will get sick?

If I have hepatitis B:

  • Women with high amounts of virus replicating can have higher rates of transmitting hepatitis B to their infants.
  • Nine in 10 infants with perinatal hepatitis B will have the disease for life.
  • Infants usually do not have symptoms, so you will not know your child is sick.
  • Children that have hepatitis B into adulthood can develop liver diseases just like adults. Find out more.

If I have hepatitis C:

  • About one in 20 infants born to women with hepatitis C will get the infection, too.
  • The risk is higher if the mother also has HIV ¬¬¬– about one in 10.
  • Infants usually do not have symptoms of hepatitis C, so you will not know your child is sick.
  • Some children are able to naturally fight off the infection, but most do not.
  • Children that have hepatitis C into adulthood can develop liver diseases just like adults. Find out more.

Resources


Contact Us

Perinatal hepatitis C
To learn more about testing, treatment, and prevention:
Phone: (215) 685-6849
Fax: (215) 685-6799

Perinatal hepatitis B
To learn more about testing, treatment, and prevention:
Phone: (215) 685-6853
Fax: (215) 685-6806

Report hepatitis
To report a case of hepatitis B or C:
Phone: 215-685-6493
Fax: (215) 685-6799

Visit our Health Information Portal for more information on how to report.