eLearning: Hepatitis B for newborns
Babies are most at risk of catching hepatitis B at birth. It is recommended that all babies are vaccinated against hepatitis B in the first 24 hours after birth. This module will help you respond to parents’ questions about the severity of hepatitis B, and the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The development of this content was led by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute for the MumBubVax website (now archived). Please note these video modules include logos and visuals that relate to the original website. Updated video modules will be developed in the future.
This eLearning module was originally designed primarily for use in general practice but the information and tips featured are applicable to various healthcare settings.
Babies are most at risk of catching hepatitis B at birth. Hepatitis B is highly contagious. The virus can survive on objects for up to seven days, so infection can occur a number of days after an adult or child has been in contact with someone who carries the virus.
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants within the first 24 hours.
- Babies under one year who catch hepatitis B are the most likely to develop chronic hepatitis B, which can lead to liver disease and liver cancer in adulthood.
- Around 90 per cent of babies who catch hepatitis B at birth develop chronic hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis B vaccine has been shown to be safe for babies.
- There is no evidence that the dose given at birth affects a mother and baby’s ability to breastfeed.
- There is no evidence that the birth dose is associated with Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), autism, fever or increased need for medical investigations into serious infection or sepsis in newborns.
Between 90 and 95 per cent of people under 40 who have had three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine, as recommended in the National Immunisation Program, are protected against the hepatitis B virus.