Home > Antenatal Hepatitis B screening: is there a need for a national policy?

Cafferkey, MT and Beckett, M and Butler, KM and Cahill, I and Dooley, S and Hall, WW and Healy, CM and MacMathuna, P and McKenna, P and McMorrow, J and Philbin, M (2001) Antenatal Hepatitis B screening: is there a need for a national policy? Irish Medical Journal, 94, (4), pp. 111-112.

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Routine antenatal testing for hepatitis B carriage with maternal consent was introduced at the Rotunda in January 1998. The uptake of testing has been excellent; 99.98% of women presenting for antenatal care accepted hepatitis B (HBV) screening in the 30-months from January 1998 through June 2000. The prevalence of HBV carriage was 0.35% (58 pregnancies of 16,222 tested) increasing from 0.25% in 1998 (16 of 6227) to 0.45% in the first six months of 2000 (16 of 3484). Fifty-five women had 58 pregnancies (three women had two pregnancies).

Two of these were e-antigen positive. HBV carrier status was previously unknown in 48 (87%). Two additional women had acute HBV infection in pregnancy. Forty-five infants have been born to mothers included in this screening programme. Audit of infant outcome reveals excellent compliance with immunisation and follow-up: 29 (64%) have completed the 3 dose HBV vaccination schedule to date. Thirteen infants (31%) are still attending; three are lost to follow-up including one whose family has emigrated. Routine antenatal screening for hepatitis B carriage is cost-effective and should be considered a standard of care in maternity practice.

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