Prevalence and risk factors of hepatitis B virus transmission among children in Enugu, Nigeria
Background: Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection has reached pandemic proportions all over the world with areas of highest prevalence being the sub- Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Most deaths related to HBV are due to complications from chronic infection. Acquisition of infection at a younger age is the most important predictor of chronicity. Eradication of HBV is an important but difficult tasks facing public health. HB immunization is the single most important factor in hepatitis B control and was commenced in 2004 in Nigeria.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) among children in the era of HB immunization, the risk factors of transmission and knowledge of mothers about their HB status.
Methods: A cross sectional study carried out on one hundred and forty children aged 18 months to 15 years at the children outpatient clinic (CHOP) of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was determined using Determine Test Kits and a structured interviewer administered questionnaire administered.
Results: Six were positive for HBsAg, giving a prevalence rate of 4.3%. HBsAg was least prevalent among children 1-5 years (2%). None of the children ≤ 5 years who received HB vaccination was positive for HBsAg though one child > 5 years who received the vaccine was positive. Sharing of toothbrushes among siblings was found to be a significantly associated risk factor. Only 6.4% of mothers knew their hepatitis B status.
Conclusion: There is a gradual fall in the prevalence of HBsAg in our environment due to HB immunization. Sharing of toothbrushes may be a potent means of transmission of HBV infection.
Keywords: HBV, Prevalence, Children, Transmission, HB immunization