Hepatitis B (policy currently under review)
The UK NSC policy on Hepatitis B screening in pregnancy
Hepatitis B and C are serious viral diseases which affect the liver and are blood borne. Both viruses may cause acute illness. However, in the majority of children these viruses become chronic with liver damage only becoming apparent in adulthood. The common way of spreading or acquiring the infection are babies born to hepatitis B or C positive mothers, sharing of toothbrushes or razors amongst family members, or intravenous drug abuse.
Mothers can pass on their infection to their baby. An infected baby may develop liver problems later in life. This can be prevented by immunisation of the newborn baby.
Screening should be offered to all pregnant women.
This policy is currently being reviewed as part of the UK NSC's regular review cycle of all policies.
The review process began in Apr 2011 and is estimated to be completed by Mar 2012.
Evidence Supporting the Policy
In August 2003, a publication Screening for infectious diseases in pregnancy was published by the Department of Health - for standards on hepatitis B testing see Section 5: Hepatitis B (p10-11).
The stakeholder groups will be involved when the policy is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us.