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March 24, 1989

Prenatal Screening for Hepatitis B Antigen

JAMA. 1989;261(12):1727. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420120059012

To the Editor.—  The Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends universal prenatal screening for hepatitis B antigen (HBsAg) during all pregnancies regardless of risk group and previous HBsAg status.1 The recommendations state that hospitals where infants are delivered should obtain HBsAg test results within 24 hours since women in labor may not have received the test prenatally.The level of laboratory diagnostic service recommended by the ACIP is not available in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and I suspect that this situation is not unique in the United States. I surveyed the ten not-for-profit hospitals with more than 300 beds (range, 300 to 539) located in the five-county Atlanta metropolitan region, the two medical center institutions in the metropolitan region (918 and 604 beds), and three national commercial laboratories and the blood bank that serve the region. Four of the ten hospitals perform HBsAg testing