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Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program

Perinatal Hepatitis B prevention is a core program activity of the New Mexico Department of Health’s Immunization program. Our goal is to prevent the transmission of Hepatitis B from mothers to infants.


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Photographs of a baby laying on his back with his arms and feet in the air.

The Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program (PHBPP) works to identify pregnant people with hepatitis B and provide case management services to protect their babies from infection. Laboratories, health care providers, community health organizations, and hospitals all play roles in prevention:

  • All women should be screened for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in each pregnancy.
  • Women who test negative for HBsAg early in their pregnancy, but who are at increased risk for hepatitis B, should be screened again at the time of delivery. Please visit the CDC Hepatitis B Perinatal page for more information.
  • Women who have not had prenatal care, or whose HBsAg status is unknown, should be tested at the time of delivery.
  • All HBsAg-positive pregnant women should be reported to NMDOH using the Notifiable Condition Reporting Form.

If a pregnant person is positive for Hepatitis B, NMDOH staff work with families, birth facilities, and pediatric providers to ensure that the babies receive post-exposure prophylaxis and follow-up.

Photographs of a sitting toddler.
  • Infants born to HBsAg-positive women should receive Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG) and single-antigen hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth
  • These children should then complete the hepatitis B vaccine series, with the second dose at 1-2 months of age and the third at 6 months of age
  • After the vaccine series (usually at 9-18 months of age, but not less than 4 weeks after the last dose of vaccine), children need follow-up testing:
    • HBsAg to rule out infection
    • Anti-HBs to confirm immunity

The PHBPP offers testing for household and sexual contacts of pregnant women with hepatitis B, information about disease management and the prevention of transmission, and vaccine to protect those contacts who are susceptible.

We work with community health organizations, providers, and other public health agencies to improve access to culturally and linguistically appropriate services for individuals and families affected by or at risk for hepatitis B.

Transmission

In the United States, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) infects about 80,000 each year, and 1.25 million people are chronically infected. About 5,000 Americans die each year from Hepatitis B and its complications, including primary liver cancer and cirrhosis. Children born to mothers with hepatitis B are at serious risk of being infected at birth. As many as 90% children infected vertically will develop chronic hepatitis B, and 15-25% will die prematurely due to liver-related complications.

Photograph of a father-figure holding a smiling baby and a mother-figure.

HBV is transmitted through blood/bodily fluids and it can be spread through:

  • Unprotected sex.
  • Sharing needles/injection equipment.
  • Sharing personal care items such as razors, toothbrushes, clippers.
  • Accidental needlestick injuries.
  • Direct content with infected blood.
  • Vertical transmission (from mother to infant) during childbirth.

NOTE: Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted through food, water, coughing, sneezing, hugging, touching, or casual contact.

Prevention

Hepatitis B infection can be prevented. Post-exposure prophylaxis with hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine in the first 12 hours of life is 95% effective at preventing this serious disease. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends all infants should receive the hepatitis B vaccine series, and that the first dose be administered within 24 hours of birth. Please visit the Immunization Schedules section of our website for more information.

Hospitals and birthing facilities should have standing orders and policies in place to ensure that mothers’ hepatitis B status is known and that appropriate preventive measures are taken. Please see the Developing Admission Orders to Prevent Hepatitis B guidance which was developed by the Immunization Action Coalition.

Community-based website offering resources and information about HIV, STDs, Viral Hepatitis, and Harm Reduction services across New Mexico. This searchable guide will help you find the best and most appropriate services in your area.

Get tested. Knowing your status is important. Information on hepatitis testing is available through the HIV/STD/Hepatitis Resource Guide website. If you do have hepatitis B, talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to protect your liver.

Get vaccinated. Hepatitis B vaccine has been available since 1982. It is the first vaccine against a major human cancer. The CDC recommends universal vaccination of all newborns and previously un-vaccinated children and adolescents.

In New Mexico, hepatitis B vaccine is available at no cost to children (ages 0-18) through the Vaccines for Children program and to eligible adults through the Hepatitis Prevention program.

Adult immunization is recommended for:

Photograph of adult female being vaccinated.
  • Anyone seeking protection from HBV infection.
  • Household, sex, and needle-sharing contacts of HBsAg-positive persons.
  • Healthcare and public safety workers.
  • Injection drug users.
  • People with more than one sex partner.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • People with end-stage renal disease or chronic liver disease.
  • Travelers to regions with high or intermediate HBsAg prevalence. Visit the Hepatitis B Infectious Diseases Related to Travel page to learn more.
  • People with diabetes.
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Protect yourself and others:

  • Condom use and other safer sex practices can reduce the risk of spreading hepatitis B.
  • If you inject drugs, do not share syringes or works. See the Harm Reduction section of our website for information about syringe exchange services.
  • People with hepatitis B should not donate blood or plasma.

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Families and Community Members

For more information or to find out if you qualify for free immunization, please call your local Public Health Office or the Hepatitis C & Buprenorphine Helpline at 1-888-DOH-HEPC (1-888-364-4372).