Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in Children
What is hepatitis B (HBV)?
Hepatitis B is a serious infection
of the liver. It’s caused by the hepatitis B virus. It can be mild and short-term.
may be long-term and lead to chronic liver disease and liver failure in infants and
The hepatitis B virus is spread from person to person through blood and body fluids,
such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva. Infants may also get the disease
if they are born to a mother who has the virus. Infected children often spread the
virus to other children if there is frequent contact. People who are likely to be
exposed to hepatitis B are:
Babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B
Babies born to mothers who
have come from a country where hepatitis B is widespread, such as Southeast Asia
People in long-term care
People who live with someone
with the virus
People who need kidney
People who use IV drugs, have
many sex partners, or have unprotected sex
About one-third of people with hepatitis B in the U.S. have an unknown source.
Why is hepatitis B a concern?
The younger the person, the greater
the likelihood of staying infected with hepatitis B and having lifelong liver problems.
These can include scarring of the liver and liver cancer.
Hepatitis B vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is widely
used for routine childhood immunization. The vaccine prevents hepatitis B infection.
It’s given as 3 or 4 shots. Follow the vaccine schedule advised by your child’s
healthcare provider. A baby born to a mother with hepatitis B is also given a shot
immune globulin. This contains antibodies to lower the chance that the baby will get