Prevention of perinatal hepatitis B virus transmission

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2019 Aug;300(2):251-259. doi: 10.1007/s00404-019-05190-0. Epub 2019 May 16.


Purpose: Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains endemic and continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality. It is a global health issue and the World Health Organization aims to eradicate HBV by 2030. Since vertical transmission accounts for the majority of chronic HBV infection, pregnancy offers an excellent opportunity to achieve complete HBV eradication by providing effective immunization of the offspring.

Methods: We reviewed recent publications identified from PubMed database using a combination of the relevant keywords for HBV, pregnancy, vertical transmission, immunoprophylaxis failure and antiviral treatment.

Results: We summarized the evidence of factors associated with, and measures to reduce and prevent maternal to child transmission, including the use of antiviral treatment during pregnancy to prevent immunoprophylaxis failure. Evidence suggested that highly viremia mother can be offered antenatal antiviral treatment to prevent immunoprophylaxis failure. We elaborated the viral load threshold to start maternal antiviral treatment and the importance of timely neonatal vaccination. A clinical algorithm to manage HBV carriers during pregnancy was proposed.

Conclusion: Eradication of HBV is achievable with optimal management of HBV carriers, especially during pregnancy by interruption of vertical transmission. Routine antenatal screening and neonatal immunoprophylaxis remain the key measures to reduce the global HBV burden, and additional antenatal antiviral treatment could further minimize the chance of persistent infection in newborns.

Keywords: Antiviral treatment; Hepatitis B virus; Immunoprophylaxis failure; Labour; Pregnancy; Vaccination; Vertical transmission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control*


  • Antiviral Agents