Hepatitis B in Children

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a virus which can cause both acute and chronic infection in human.

How common of hepatitis B infection is in Hong Kong?

About 7% of Hong Kong adult population is hepatitis B carrier. In children, it is less than 1%.

What are the routes of transmission?

There are 3 main routes of transmission:

  1. Mother to infant around the time of delivery (This is the most common route of transmission in children)
  2. Blood contact
  3. Sexual contact

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B infection?

Most of them have no symptoms. Some of them may have yellow coloring of the eyes, dark urine, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, fever, malaise or loss of appetite. 

What are the complications of hepatitis B infection?

Some of the patients end up with acute fulminant hepatitis. Most of the patients end up with chronic carrier state which increases risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer in long term.

Can I breast feed my child if I am a hepatitis B carrier?

There is no contradiction to breast feed your child even you are a hepatitis B carrier.

How can I prevent hepatitis B infection to my baby?

  1. Antiviral medications can be offered to mothers during pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission from mother to infant
  2. Hepatitis B immunoglobulin should be given to babies within 24 hours born to hepatitis B carrier mothers
  3. The 3-dose scheduled hepatitis B vaccine should be completed
  4. Avoid sharing of syringes, razors, booth brushes and other objects which may contaminated with blood
  5. Practice safe sex

How can I know that I have the hepatitis B immunity or not?

After completion of the hepatitis B vaccine, you can check blood for the immunity.

What should I do if I do not have the immunity?

Hepatitis B vaccine should be given again.

What should I do if I am a carrier?

Regularly follow-up and monitoring by blood tests and USG are needed. And treatment such as antiviral medications or interferon can be offered if need. 

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