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April 17, 1987

Medical News & Perspectives

JAMA. 1987;257(15):1999-2007. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390150013003

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Routine Screening Considered to End Perinatal Hepatitis Transmission  THE CENTERS for Disease Control (CDC) is giving serious consideration to broadening the present recommendations for screening pregnant women for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). There is now overwhelming evidence that, by identifying mothers who are carriers of hepatitis B virus and acting on that information, transmission of the virus can be interrupted.When a mother is identified as positive for the virus, her newborn infant can receive high-titer immune globulin and immunization with hepatitis B vaccine. Studies have shown that in well over 90% of cases this will prevent the infant from acquiring the virus with its attendant risk of developing chronic liver disease.When women are both HBsAg and e antigen positive, there is an 80% to 90% risk of their infants becoming infected with the virus and becoming chronic carriers. The e antigen is a hepatitis B marker