Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is a virus that presents in blood and bodily fluids and causes an infection. When the body’s immune system responds to this virus it can damage liver cells.
Occurs mostly in adults and is less common in children. Some experience no symptoms at all and others become very ill.
Chronic hepatitis B is when the virus does not clear from the body within six months. This type of hepatitis is more common in children but can affect adults as well. If hepatitis B is acquired at a younger age, it is more likely for it to become chronic.
Most children with Hep B do not have any symptoms. Some may experience symptoms if they have a “flare” of the hep B infection
Hepatitis B is spread when blood from an infected person enters another person’s body and can be spread even if the person does not have any symptoms.
It cannot be spread through contact like sharing utensils, cups, hand holding, cuddling etc.
Mother to child transmission is the most common way children come in contact with hepatitis B. Pregnant women in the US are tested for hepatitis B are part of routine prenatal testing. If a pregnant woman tests positive during pregnancy, she may be treated with oral antiviral medication. This will help reduce the risk of the child contracting the infection as well. Babies born with hepatitis B are considered high risk infants and should be receive an accelerated hepatitis B vaccination course.
Hepatitis B can be transmitted when blood from an infected person enters another person’s body and is highly infectious. Contact with open wounds or bites, sharing toothbrushes, razors, equipment for cutting hair, sharing drug taking equipment and sexual intercourse are all ways hepatitis B can be transmitted. It can also be spread through receiving contaminated blood during a medical procedure.
Treatment includes medication that aims to control the hep B virus by reducing the amount of virus in the blood. It also aims to improve the immune system's response. This will minimize the risk of the infection spreading and prevent damage to liver cells.
Any healthcare professional treating your child including their dentist should be notified.
Notifying family, friends, or peers about your child’s hep B infection is entirely up to you.
Last updated on February 28th, 2023 at 12:36 pm