Current progress in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B and resulting clinical and programmatic implications

Infect Drug Resist. 2019 Apr 26:12:977-987. doi: 10.2147/IDR.S171695. eCollection 2019.


There is currently no cure for hepatitis B chronic infections. Because new hepatitis B infections result mainly from perinatal transmission, preventing mother-to-child transmission is essential to reach by 2030 the goal of hepatitis B elimination set by the World Health Organization. The universal administration of hepatitis B vaccine to all infants, regardless of maternal status, starting with the birth dose, is the cornerstone of the strategy for elimination. Additional interventions, such as hepatitis B immune globulin administered to newborns and antiviral prophylaxis administered to hepatitis B infected pregnant women, may contribute to reaching the goal earlier. Hepatitis B immune globulin may remain out for reach of many pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries due to cost and logistic issues, but antivirals are cheap and do not require a cold chain for distribution. However, it has been observed that some viruses harbor mutations associated with escape from vaccine-elicited antibodies following immunization or administration of hepatitis B immune globulin. Also, resistance associated mutations have been described for several drugs used for treatment of hepatitis B infected patients as well as for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. Whether these mutations have the potential to compromise the prevention of mother-to-child transmission or future treatment of the mother is a question of importance. We propose a review of important recent studies assessing tenofovir disoproxil fumarate for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and provides detailed information on the mutations possibly relevant in this setting.

Keywords: antiviral; hepatitis B; mother-to-child transmission; prevention; resistance.