Hepatitis B during pregnancy

Hepatitis B during pregnancy

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation of liver cells. It can be get transferred from one person to another in body fluids, such as blood, semen, or vaginal fluid.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B virus

Either there are no symptoms or very mild symptoms. The symptoms appear after two to three months after the infection. They occur in two phases.

  • Flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, aches, and pain lasting up to 10 days followed by jaundice, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite for one-three weeks.
  • Some people also develop symptoms like itchy skin, dark wee, and pale-colored poos.

What causes Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B infection takes a lot of time to come up with symptoms. The most common ways through which it can spread are:

  • Having unprotected sex with a person carrying the virus
  • Blood-to-blood contact due to sharing of needles (hospitals, tattoo shops, body piercing)
  • During pregnancy, from mother to child
  • Sharing toothbrush or razors
  • At a dentist’s clinic if the equipment is not properly sterilized
  • By blood transfusion

How can it be treated?

If you have hepatitis B during pregnancy there is a very high chance that you might pass it on to your baby. A blood test is offered to detect this virus, which it the best way. If it comes out positive, viral load is checked. The viral load decides whether medications should be given or not. It the viral load is high; most likely you’ll be offered treatment with a medication which reduces the chance of transfer of virus to the baby. Sometimes babies need an injection of antibodies against hepatitis B. The treatment usually starts in the third trimester and goes on until 4-12 weeks after giving birth. If the viral load is low, it can be looked at after birth.

Make sure that if you are already taking medicines for hepatitis B, tell your doctor about it so that they can check the dose and if they require changing the medication.

Hepatitis B will not affect the baby if proper antenatal care is done. Sometimes the baby needs to be given a vaccination at birth.

Have a safe pregnancy and for all pregnancy related information download Pregnancy Health, Diet and Fitness by Ango!