Serological markers of hepatitis B infection in infants presenting for their first immunization
Introduction: Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent perinatal transmission if administered within 24 hours of birth. Nigerian infants are known to present late for their first immunizations and may acquire the virus either vertically or horizontally before receipt of the first dose of hepatitis
B immunization. This study evaluated serological markers for hepatitis B virus infection in Nigerian infants prior to receipt of the first dose of hepatitis B immunization.
Method: Blood samples obtained prior to the receipt of hepatitis B vaccine from infants presenting for their first immunization were analysed for HBsAg, antiHBc and antiHBe..
Results: The mean age at presentation of the 153 infants studied
was 14.3±15.6 days while only two infants presented on the first day of life. The prevalences of HBsAg and antiHBc were 16.3% and 15.7% respectively. Of those positive for either HBsAg or antiHBc 20(47.6%) were positive for antiHBe. The presence of HBsAg was not significantly associated with sex, age, circumcision, ear piercing and blood transfusion.
Conclusion: Majority of the infants did not receive hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth. Institutional delivery should be encouraged while emphasizing to mothers and health care workers that hepatitis B vaccination must commence within 24 hours of birth.
Key words: Serological markers, hepatitis B. first infant immunization