The hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine's offered to all babies whose mothers have hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B infection can be passed from an infected mother to her baby. Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B are at high risk of developing hepatitis B themselves. The best way to help protect your baby against hepatitis B is to immunise them from birth.
What's hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. Many people with hepatitis B have no symptoms at all and don’t know they're infected. Others have flu-like symptoms and yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
Hepatitis B infection can only be identified by a blood test. Many adults with hepatitis B recover fully but about 1 in 10 adults can remain infectious and spread the infection to others. About 1 in 5 of this group could develop serious liver disease later in life.
More about hepatitis B
How can you become infected with hepatitis B?
The hepatitis B virus is carried in the blood and other body fluids. There are 3 main ways infection is spread:
- By sexual intercourse with an infected person without a condom
- By direct contact with the blood of an infected person, for example by sharing toothbrushes and razors, from equipment used for tattooing and body piercing and between drug users who share needles, syringes and other equipment
- From an infected mother to her baby
Why's hepatitis B infection particularly serious for babies?
Without immunisation, many babies born to mothers who've hepatitis B will become infected.
As many as 9 out of 10 babies who become infected with the hepatitis B virus will develop a long-lasting infection and may develop serious liver disease later in life.
If your baby's fully immunised, they have a 95% chance of being protected from hepatitis B for life.
Are all babies offered protection against hepatitis B?
Yes, from October 2017, the hepatitis B vaccine became part of the routine immunisation programme offered to all babies at 8, 12 and 16 weeks through the 6-in-1 vaccine.
As well as this, extra doses are offered to babies at birth who were born to mothers who have hepatitis b or live in a house where someone is infected with the virus.
Could my partner and other children be at risk of catching hepatitis B?
Yes. It may be necessary for your partner and any other children to have blood tests and/or a course of the vaccine.