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East Mediterr Health J. 2013 Feb;19(2):130-4.

High incidence of hepatitis B infection after treatment for paediatric cancer at a teaching hospital in Baghdad.

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  • 1Baghdad College of Medicine, Paediatric Oncology Unit, Baghdad, Iraq.


This study estimated the incidence of viral hepatitis in children treated for cancer, to identify variables that could affect this incidence and to assess the role of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination in preventing infection. Between September 2007 and June 2008, 256 children in the haemato-oncology unit at the Children's Welfare Teaching Hospital, Baghdad, were studied prospectively. Demographic and clinical data and vaccination history were recorded. Patients were tested for HBV at the time of diagnosis (all were negative) and after starting chemotherapy. On admission to the unit, 231 patients (90.2%) were revaccinated. At reassessment after treatment for cancer, HBV infection was found in 70 patients (27.3%). The variables that significantly increased the risk for HBV infection were a diagnosis of leukaemia and receiving more than 3 units of blood. A higher number of HBV vaccinations in hospital reduced the risk for HBV infection. The high rate of acquisition of HBV infection found in this study indicates the need for better screening of blood products and adherence to aseptic techniques in management of this group of patients.

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