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Hepatitis B is a highly infectious disease that can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer once it becomes chronic. People who have been infected with Hepatitis B may have symptoms such as nausea, yellowish skin, and fatigue or they may not have any symptoms at all. If you are pregnant, it is important to be tested for Hepatitis B. If you test positive, what can you do to protect your baby's health in the long term?

Pregnant women going for their first prenatal appointment will have a series of blood tests done, and Hepatitis B should be included in the things they are tested for. Ask your doctor about this if you are not certain. Over a million people in the United States carry Hep B, but a lot of them don't know they have the virus. Don't assume that you don't have Hep B if you are symptomless. Hepatitis B can be passed on through sexual intercourse, or by your mom if she had it when you were born.

But it can also be contracted in less obvious ways, like using the razor or toothbrush of someone with Hep B only tiny traces of blood are needed to get Hep B. Pregnant women who are Hep B positive can do a lot to protect their baby from the virus. If your healthcare providers are aware that you have Hepatitis B, you will be monitored more closely during pregnancy.

But Hep B doesn't normally cause any problems during pregnancy itself. It is at birth that the virus is normally passed on. If your baby receives the appropriate treatment within the first 12 hours of life after birth in hospital, he or she has a 90 percent chance of being safe from Hep B. The protocol involves the first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine, along with Hep B immune globulin.

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