Updated: Feb 4
Most newborns in the United States are vaccinated against the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), usually within the first few hours of life.
What is Hepatitis B?
A blood borne virus that attacks the liver causing yellowing of the skin, fever, fatigue, dark urine, and abdominal pain. If the infection persists it can cause chronic liver failure and cancer. HBV was discovered in 1963 by Dr. Baruch Blumberg when the virus was much more prevalent.
Now, roughly only 1 per 100,000 people are infected with the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).
The occurrence in children under 15 years old is only 0.02 per 100,000.
This virus is spread through infected blood, semen (sex), and other body fluids. There is no cure for HBV however the infection can go away on its own over a few months.
Babies are exposed to blood and body fluids at delivery, therefore it can spread from an infected mother to their baby during the birth process. Any pregnant women receiving prenatal care will be tested for HBV during their routine prenatal labs.
Due to the success of the vaccine the virus is no longer endemic and infections are much less common.
Who should receive the vaccine?
At first the U.S. recommended the vaccine to gay men, injection drug users, and healthcare workers.
Now it is recommended to hepatitis B-positive women’s children and all newborns who weigh more than 2000 grams, to be given within the first 24 hours of birth.
The vaccine is 0.5 mL given intramuscular in the anterolateral thigh. The vaccine is a 3 series injection: shortly after birth, at 1–2 months of age, at 6–18 months of age.
Although as we discussed pregnant women who are hepatitis B positive can infect their babies during delivery, but breastfeeding is safe.
What happens to an infant born of a HBV positive mother:
Newborns who are born is HBV positive mothers are bathed immediately at deliver with a mild soap solution to remove HBV contaminated blood and body fluids. Following this they are given the HBV vaccine within 12 hours of birth, followed by the completion of the vaccine series. After your newborn received the first injection at birth breastfeeding is safe.
What if I am HBV negative?
2 in 3 children with HBV are born to mothers who are not infected. These children are often infected through family members (blood/body fluid) with the HBV.
This being said, if you are HBV negative there is no chance of your infant to get HBV through birth.
If your close contacts and family are HBV negative and you are not concerned about your child being in contact with a used needle or the blood of someone who is Hepatitis B positive, the chances of your infant / child getting HBV are extremely low.
What are the risks of the vaccine?
1. ALUMINUM: Current Aluminum recommendations for an infant is 4-5 micrograms/kg/day.
An 8lb baby should receive a MAX of 16-20 micrograms of aluminum.
HOWEVER the Hepatitis B Vaccine given at birth contains 250 micrograms of Aluminum, 15x the recommended safe amount for an 8lb newborn.
Aluminum can interfere with cellular metabolism, is neurotoxic, bone toxicity, can cause a free radical attack, and cell damage.
2. Only 24% of american teens were still immune after recieving 3 dose timeline recommended for newborns (birth, 1-2mo, 6-18mo). There is no recommendation for teens or adults to receive a booster or repeat the vaccine. Therefore the success of the vaccine by teenage years and adulthood is highly questionable. It seems the immunity from the vaccines wares off. Since HBV is spread through blood (needles) and body fluid/semen (which you infant is HIGHLY unlikely to be exposed to) it would be most beneficially for teens and adults to have immunity, which only 1/4 still have after receiving the series as an infant.
Some people will opt completely out of the Hepatitis B Vaccine. Others will opt to postpone the vaccine until teenage or even adult years due to the body being able to process the aluminum plus the immunity will then cover the later years of life for teens and adults.
The Vaccine-Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul's Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health-from Pregnancy Through Your Child's Teen Years https://www.amazon.com/Vaccine-Friendly-Plan-Effective-Health-Pregnancy/dp/1101884231/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=baby+friendly+vaccine&qid=1599920563&sr=8-1