A policy statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls for the elimination of perinatal Hepatitis B
Perinatal, or mother-to-child, transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains an important public health concern. Approximately 1000 new cases of perinatal HBV infection occur annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chronic HBV infection develops in up to 90% of infants who are infected with HBV at birth or in the first year of life. If not treated, approximately one in four infants will die prematurely of complications related to their HBV infection.
Hepatitis B infection in infants is largely preventable. Unfortunately, prevention efforts are hampered by barriers including gaps in identifying pregnant women who are infected with HBV and failure to administer a birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine to all infants.
To help reduce the incidence of perinatal HBV transmission and to address these prevention barriers, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a policy statement calling for providing the birth dose of the HBV vaccine within the first 24 hours of life to all medically stable newborns with a birth weight of at least 2,000 grams (about 4.4 lbs).
The new AAP policy statement removes language that previously allowed for a delay of the birth dose of the HBV vaccine. The birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine is important in preventing infection of infants born to infected mothers in situations in which HBV-infected mothers are not identified at the time of birth, thus, the policy statement addresses both prevention barriers described above. It is also now aligned with the same recommendation of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, approved in 2016. AAP, with a membership of 66,000 pediatricians, and other national organizations and professional medical societies play critical roles in strengthening our national response to viral hepatitis, particularly given their ability to enhance provider knowledge and influence healthcare practice.
The AAP’s new policy statement will contribute to achieving the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan’s call for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HBV. The Plan details related actions to be taken and establishes as an indicator of our national progress increasing the rate of hepatitis B vaccine “birth dose” coverage to 85%. The Action Plan is a strategic framework that highlights the commitment of more than 20 federal partners working together to fight viral hepatitis in partnership with states, counties, cities and hundreds of organizations around the country. To learn more, download the plan and see how to get involved.
For more information, read the AAP News article, “Give the first dose of HepB vaccine within 24 hours of birth: AAP.”
New @AmerAcadPeds policy statement calls for the elimination of perinatal #hepB https://go.usa.gov/xnass