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Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Efforts Evaluated

Study finds gaps persist in hospital policies and practices to prevent perinatal transmission

FRIDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- Significant policy and practice gaps persist in the efforts of U.S. hospitals to prevent perinatal transmission of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), according to a study published online March 8 in Pediatrics.

Bayo C. Willis, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues surveyed a representative sample of 242 delivery hospitals from every state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico regarding their policies to prevent perinatal HBV transmission. Samples of maternal-infant medical records were also requested and reviewed.

The researchers received survey responses from 190 hospitals and reviewed medical records for 4,762 mothers and 4,786 newborns. The proportion of hospitals with each of the six recommended policies in place ranged from 63.0 to 80.6 percent. In the 18 cases in which a mother who was hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive gave birth, 62.1 percent of newborns received hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immunoglobulin within 12 hours of delivery. However, 13.7 percent were not vaccinated and 19.7 percent did not receive hepatitis B immunoglobulin. For infants born to 320 women with unknown HBsAg status, 52.4 percent were vaccinated within 12 hours and 20.1 percent were not vaccinated. For infants who were born to HBsAg-negative mothers, 69.1 percent were vaccinated.

"These findings indicate that significant gaps persist in hospital policies and practices to prevent perinatal HBV transmission in the United States. Efforts to avoid medical errors through appropriate implementation and monitoring of hospital practices are needed to eliminate perinatal HBV transmission," the authors write.

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