Congenital Hepatitis B

Also known as: congenital HBV.

What is congenital hepatitis B?

Congenital hepatitis B is a viral infection of a baby’s liver which occurs when a pregnant women infected with HBV passes the virus onto her unborn infant. This may lead to acute or chronic liver disease, scarring and/or cancer of the liver.

What causes congenital hepatitis B?

The hepatitis B virus is the direct cause of congenital hepatitis B which is found in blood and body fluids. Perinatal infections and childhood disease occurs through close body contact with infected persons. Some mothers may be unaware that they carry the virus and can pass it along to their baby without being aware of it.

What are the symptoms of congenital hepatitis B?

In the newborn baby there may be no signs or symptoms, and an illness only presents in 5-15% of infected children aged 1-5 years. Infants/children may present with symptoms of acute hepatitis (such as abdominal pain, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), which may be life threatening from massive liver damage.

Rare complications of viral hepatitis include symptoms of heart and pancreatic damage, nerve disorders, and anemia.

What are congenital hepatitis B care options?

Babies born to a mother with hepatitis B should be injected with HBV vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of birth. A variety of antiviral drugs are available to treat active disease.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: November 18, 2021 02:43 PM

NICU: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, is proud to serve as a regional, national, and international referral center, receiving critically ill newborns from throughout South Florida and Latin America.

Learn More