Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by Hepatitis B viruses. The infection can be acute or chronic. Most chronic carriers have no symptoms. You can become infected by Hepatitis B through sexual contact or by exposure to infected body fluids such as saliva.

If you are a chronic carrier of Hepatitis B, you can pass the infection to your baby. Infected infants do not appear to be at a higher risk of birth defects.

Chapter 2 Pre-Pregnancy Vaccination

However, they have a 25% chance of dying from liver-related diseases such as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer later in life.

To prevent the baby from being infected, he/she should be vaccinated with an injection of the Hepatitis B vaccine and anti-bodies immediately after delivery. Once the baby is vaccinated against Hepatitis B, the mother can continue to breastfeed even if she is a carrier.


1. Does vaccination carry any risks for the developing fetus?

There is no evidence that vaccinating pregnant women poses any risk to the developing fetus. The pregnant woman may be vaccinated with "killed" (inactivated) viruses, bacterial vaccines or toxoids. Examples of "killed" vaccines are flu, Hepatitis B and tetanus vaccines.

We recommend that you avoid "live" virus vaccines (like measles, mumps, and rubella) that contain small parts of the actual virus. They may cause miscarriage or birth defects if they are transmitted to the baby. This risk is very small though.

Other examples of "live" virus vaccines include chicken pox, smallpox, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and poliomyelitis vaccines.

2. Once I get a "live" virus vaccination, how long do I need to wait to attempt to conceive?

If you receive a "live" virus vaccine, you need to wait at least three months before you try to conceive. Your body will need time to flush out the injected viruses.

However, if you become pregnant accidentally before the three months' period, do not be alarmed. Consult your obstetrician immediately. The risk of your baby being affected is very small and you may not need to terminate the pregnancy.

3. Can I get other childhood diseases again?

Chicken pox, German measles and mumps generally give you a lifelong immunity once you have had them. If you are unsure of your immunity status, consult your obstetrician to do a simple blood test.

4. Is it safe for me to get a flu vaccine during pregnancy?

Getting the flu while pregnant may lead to complications in some women. These include high fever and lung infections, which may require hospitalization. It has also been suggested that flu may increase the rate of miscarriage. The flu vaccine can be safely administered to pregnant women to prevent these complications, especially during the flu season.

5. I seem to get more colds and flu than usual since my pregnancy began. Why is this so?

Pregnant women tend to get more colds and flu due to the weakened immune system during pregnancy. The body has to lower its defenses to make sure that the baby is not rejected. Unfortunately, pregnant women then become more susceptible to minor flu and colds than before.

6. Which travel vaccine is safe and recommended for pregnancy?

You can consider meningococcal and rabies vaccine if these diseases are endemic in the country which you are traveling to. The safety of vaccines for yellow fever, Hepatitis A and typhoid is not yet established in pregnancy.

7. Are vaccinations safe for breastfeeding?

Be rest assured that vaccinations are safe for breastfeeding for both the "live" as well as inactivated vaccines.

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