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Dig Dis. 1992;10(1):46-52.

Natural history and control of perinatally acquired hepatitis B virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital.


Maternal-infant transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is estimated to account for 40-50% of HBV carriers in Chinese populations, but is uncommon among other ethnic groups. The high frequency of maternal-infant transmission among Chinese populations is related to the high prevalence of carrier mothers with replicative HBV infection. The natural course of perinatally acquired HBV infection consists of three phases: an initial phase of immune tolerance followed by a phase of immune clearance and then a non-replicative phase. The initial phase of immune tolerance which may last for several decades contributes to the poor response to interferon therapy. The high prevalence of carrier mothers with replicative infection mandates a combination of passive and active prophylaxis for the newborns.

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