Hepatitis B infection

What is Hepatitis B?

It is an infectious liver disease which is cause by the Hepatitis B virus. (HBV)
Is Hepatitis B routinely screened during pregnancy?
Yes, it is routinely screened during pregnancy. However, in some clinics they may only routinely screen you for HIV only. Ask your doctor if you are been screened for Hepatitis B as well.
What if I am a Hepatitis B carrier?
There will be some implications if you have Hepatitis B. This include:
  • Your doctor may ask you to take a detailed blood test to know your condition. In addition, he will check your liver function.
  • You should avoid alcohol as it could cause further damage to your liver.
  • Other household contacts and especially your partner will also be screened for Hepatitis B if their statuses are unknown. If they have no Hepatitis B, they will be advised to take the Hepatitis B vaccination.
  • Your baby will be given 2 shots after delivery. Hepatitis B immune globulin (HbIG) and vaccination for Hepatitis B (which is routine anyway) after delivery.
  • You will need to be followed up regularly on a long term basis to monitor your liver function. Chronic hepatitis B carriers have a risk of developing liver failure and cancer of the liver.

How did I get Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a highly infectious virus that is transmitted by blood, semen and other bodily fluid. Possible ways of you contracting Hepatitis B includes:
  • At birth if your mother is a carrier. This is called ‘vertical transmission’.
  • Sexual intercourse with a carrier.
  • Sharing needle or needle stick injury contaminated with blood from a carrier.
  • Sharing toothbrush or razor which is contaminated with from a carrier.
  • Body piercing or tattoo at a place where good health practice is not done.
  • Organ transplantation
  • Blood transfusion
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?
  • Mild flu-like illness
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the right upper abdomen.
  • Your skin or eyes becomes yellow (jaundice)
  • However, approximately a third of patients have no symptoms
What the long term risk of having Hepatitis B?
Most people will recover after having an acute infection of Hepatitis B. However, approximately 5% will develop chronic Hepatitis B (carriers of Hepatitis B). These people may look healthy for years, however but their liver cells slowly get damage. If there is severe damage to their liver, there are at risk of developing scars in their liver (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. This could be fatal.
What is the treatment if I have Hepatitis B?
Currently, there is no treatment that will completely cure Hepatitis B. However, there are some medications that could control Hepatitis B from further deteriorating your liver.
What is the risk to my baby if I am a hepatitis B carrier?
  • If you contracted Hepatitis B infection during the third trimester of your pregnancy, there is a risk 80 – 90% of transmitting the disease to your baby.
  • If your baby received both Hep B immunoglobulin (HbIG) and vaccination within 12 hours delivery, there is more than 90% chance of your baby being protected



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