Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention

Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). When infected the virus enters the bloodstream, attacks the liver and can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like liver disease or liver cancer.

Babies born to moms infected with HBV are at risk for infection. Almost all cases of perinatal HBV can be prevented if the newborn receives the recommended immunizations at the recommended times.

Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program

All pregnant individuals should have a blood test for hepatitis B surface antigen. All positive test results are required to be reported by health care providers, hospitals, and laboratories to the NH DHHS (per RSA-141 C).

When infants and young children are infected with HBV, the virus often remains in the body for life and causes ongoing liver damage, including liver failure and liver cancer.

The primary objective of the NH Division of Public Health Services’ Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program is to prevent transmission of hepatitis B virus from a hepatitis B-positive pregnant individual to their infant. The Program Coordinator helps ensure that all babies born to hepatitis B-positive moms:

  • Get their first hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin at birth;
  • Complete their hepatitis B vaccine series on time; and,
  • Have blood testing done to show that they are protected.


How to report a positive test result in a pregnant individual

Please complete the Hepatitis B Provider Case Report Form or contact the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program Coordinator:

NH Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Public Health Services
Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, Immunization Section
29 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301-6504

Phone (Monday – Friday 8:00 AM-4:30 PM): (603) 271-4482
Toll free in NH: (800) 852-3345 Ext. 4482
Fax: (603) 271-3850


How does the virus spread?

The virus is spread by contact with the blood or body fluid of an infected person. A person can become infected in several ways, including but not limited to:

  • Having sex with an infected person;
  • Injection drug use that involves sharing needles or other contaminated drug-preparation equipment;
  • Being stuck with a used needle or sharp instrument; or
  • During birth when the virus passes from an infected mother to their baby.

HBV can survive outside the body at least 7 days. During that time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not infected.

Not all people newly infected with HBV have symptoms, but for those that do, symptoms can include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice.


Is there a vaccine?

Fortunately, a vaccine can prevent this very serious illness. Hepatitis B vaccine information and other information on vaccines for children and adults is available from the NH Immunization Program.