Risk of hepatitis B transmission in breast-fed infants of chronic hepatitis B carriers

James B. Hill, Jeanne S. Sheffield, Matthew J. Kim, James M. Alexander, Barbara Sercely, George D. Wendel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To measure the rate of hepatitis B (HBV) transmission from chronic HBV carriers to breast-fed infants after immunoprophylaxis. METHODS: Since 1992 information on women with HBV during pregnancy has been collected in a prospective longitudinal study. Those HBV carriers and their infants participating in a county HBV immunoprophylaxis program were identified. Infants were followed for up to 15 months and examined for hepatitis B infection by hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). RESULTS: A total of 369 infants born to women with chronic HBV met the inclusion criteria and received hepatitis B immune globulin at birth and the full course of the hepatitis B vaccine series. We compared 101 breast-fed infants with 268 formula-fed infants. There was no significant difference between the two groups with respect to the number of women who were positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) (22% versus 26% P = .51). Three women in the breast-feeding group had liver transaminase abnormalities compared with six women in the formula-feeding group (P = .29). Overall there were nine cases of HBV infection transmission (2.4%). None of the 101 breast-fed infants and nine formula-fed infants (3%) were positive for HBsAg after the initial vaccination series (P = .063). The mean length of time for breast-feeding was 4.9 months (range 2 weeks to 1 year). CONCLUSION: With appropriate immunoprophylaxis including hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine breast-feeding of infants of chronic HBV carriers poses no additional risk for the transmission of the hepatitis B virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1052
Number of pages4
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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