The hepatitis B vaccine provides protection against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which can cause serious liver infection and damage. Pregnancy comes with unique medication considerations, so let’s take an evidence-based look at hepatitis B vaccination during pregnancy.
Overview Of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a viral infection transmitted through contact with infected blood or body fluids. It can cause acute illness with fatigue, fever, and jaundice, or progress to chronic hepatitis B with ongoing liver inflammation that can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
Around 2 billion people worldwide show evidence of past or current HBV infection. The CDC estimates about 850,000 people in the United States have chronic hepatitis B. Vaccination helps prevent hepatitis B infection and its potentially serious complications.
The Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine contains recombinant HBV surface antigen proteins that stimulate protective antibody production without the risk of contracting actual HBV infection. The standard regimen is 3 doses over 6 months, providing over 90% immunity.
Routine childhood vaccination has dramatically reduced hepatitis B rates. The CDC recommends the vaccine for all children beginning at birth, teens, high-risk adults, and pregnant women. Boosters may be needed depending on antibody levels.
Safety In Pregnancy
No evidence indicates the hepatitis B vaccine causes harm to pregnant women or the developing baby. The vaccine contains non-infectious HBV surface proteins only. Leading health organizations consider it safe during pregnancy.
Clinical trials found similar rates of adverse effects in vaccinated pregnant women compared to placebo. No differences occurred in miscarriage rates, birth defects, preterm delivery, or infant growth between groups.
Benefits In Pregnancy
Vaccinating susceptible pregnant women provides critical protection for both mother and newborn against hepatitis B infection.
At birth, an infected mother can transmit HBV to her baby. This causes a 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B with lifelong risks. Vaccinating moms prevents hepatitis B transmission during the birth process.
The CDC advises:
– If not vaccinated prior, pregnant women should receive dose #1 of hepatitis B vaccine during their pregnancy
– Remaining doses are completed after giving birth
– Test for hepatitis B immunity during early pregnancy to assess need
– Vaccinate babies at birth if mom tests positive for hepatitis B
Ideally, women are vaccinated before becoming pregnant. But getting dose #1 during pregnancy protects vulnerable newborns.
No Risk of Miscarriage
Some online claims wrongly assert the hepatitis B vaccine increases miscarriage risk. Multiple large scientific studies found zero difference in miscarriage rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated pregnant women.
Most miscarriages occur within the first trimester. The immune-stimulating effects of vaccination do not heighten miscarriage risk. The CDC concludes no scientific evidence links the hepatitis B vaccine to miscarriage.
No Added Risks for Baby
False claims about developmental problems, birth defects, or harm to the fetus from a mom’s hepatitis B vaccination all lack scientific validation.
The vaccine does not cross the placenta and contains no live virus, thereby posing no risks. Extensive research affirms its safety for babies of vaccinated pregnant women.
The hepatitis B vaccine is strongly recommended during pregnancy to prevent HBV infection in newborns. Current evidence overwhelmingly confirms its safety and efficacy.
Vaccinating susceptible pregnant women causes no increased risks of miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, or other problems. It provides monumental protection against the baby acquiring chronic hepatitis B at birth. Discuss the vaccine with your doctor for optimal health for you and your baby.
The CDC recommends pregnant women get dose #1 during pregnancy. Remaining doses come after delivery. Get vaccinated if not immune.
Most people have no issues. Possible mild side effects include soreness at injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, fever. These resolve quickly.
Yes, dose #1 can be safely given any time during pregnancy to protect the newborn. The vaccine does not increase risk of birth defects or miscarriage.
It helps prevent the mother from transmitting the hepatitis B virus to her baby during childbirth. Hepatitis B infection in infants often becomes chronic.
Some countries mandate it, but in the US it is recommended. Discuss your immunity status and options with your doctor during pregnancy.