Stepped-up vaccine series for hepatitis B is effective during pregnancy

June 28, 2011

UT Southwestern Medical Center maternal-fetal specialists have confirmed a potential new protocol to protect pregnant women who are at risk for hepatitis B, a health problem that affects 2 billion people worldwide.

An accelerated vaccination schedule for high-risk pregnant women was found effective and well-tolerated. The findings appear in the journal & Gynecology.

While the normal three-shot regimen of B vaccine for adults – given over a six-month period – has long been recommended for pregnant women, that schedule often proved unmanageable in the course of a .

"It's difficult to get all three doses in pregnancy, and people tend to get lost to follow-up, especially high-risk populations," said Dr. Jeanne Sheffield, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study.

The research team stepped up the process for pregnant women and used the normal three-shot dosage given to adults over a 12-week period. That regimen is the shortest recommended schedule in nonpregnant adults that still offers protective long-term immunity.

"Now that we've shown it's efficacious in pregnancy, people are interested," said Dr. Sheffield, who also heads UT Southwestern's maternal-fetal medicine fellowship program. "We've already received a number of requests for our specific protocol from physicians who see high-risk patients and are interested in starting a vaccination program."

In the U.S., nearly 1.5 million people live with chronic hepatitis B infection, and it is the underlying cause of 3,000 deaths per year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended in 1993 and in 2007 that pregnant women at risk for hepatitis B should receive vaccination.

Dr. Sheffield said, however, that health care providers seldom offer the hepatitis B vaccine series to reproductive-aged women because of lack of physician and patient education, patients' fear of vaccination and its purported side effects, and the overall reluctance to vaccinate pregnant women.

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports pregnancy is not a contraindication to hepatitis B vaccine, limited data were available on its use in pregnancy.

In the current study, conducted at Parkland Memorial Hospital, researchers enrolled high-risk women with a current diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease, injection drug use or both, over a six-year period. Of 200 women enrolled, 168 received all three doses of the vaccine.

Researchers found that race, maternal age, tobacco and alcohol use, and gestational age at first vaccination did not affect seroconversion rates – the development of antibodies against hepatitis B – using the accelerated schedule. Obesity had a negative influence, however.

The accelerated schedule in pregnancy had seroconversion rates (90 percent) that were comparable to the standard schedule in healthy adults. The study also showed no increase in preterm delivery rates or neonatal intensive care admissions.

"The vaccine was well-tolerated in our , and no serious adverse events were reported," Dr. Sheffield said. "Initial concerns about the ability of a pregnant woman to mount an effective immune response to a vaccine are largely unfounded. It's doable."

Explore further: Influenza vaccination during pregnancy protects newborns

Related Stories

Influenza vaccination during pregnancy protects newborns

June 23, 2011
Infants born to mothers who received the influenza (flu) vaccine while pregnant are nearly 50 percent less likely to be hospitalized for the flu than infants born to mothers who did not receive the vaccine while pregnant, ...

New study to assess safety of meningitis vaccine during pregnancy

April 27, 2011
The Connecticut Pregnancy Exposure Information Service (CPEIS), a statewide nonprofit organization based at the Health Center with affiliates across North America, is taking part in a new study that will assess the safety ...

Recommended for you

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.