March 5, 1982

California battles perinatal hepatitis B

JAMA. 1982;247(9):1238. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320340010006

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California is campaigning to prevent perinatal transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The professional education effort began in February because, according to James Chin, MD, of the California Department of Health Services, Berkeley, a conservative estimate is that "several thousand perinatally acquired HBV infections" occur annually in that state. That may be almost as many cases as in the other 49 states put together, he says.

Why so many in California? According to Chin, chief of the department's infectious disease section, the HBV-carrier prevalence rate among white adults in the United States is around 0.3%. But it may be as high as 20% among immigrants from Asia and the Pacific Basin and among native-born persons of Asian, Polynesian, Micronesian, or Eskimo ancestry. California has a larger number of persons from the latter high-risk groups—more than 1 million total— than do other states.

Thus, California's health department is urging hepatitis B