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World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jun 21;11(23):3582-5.

Transformation of hepatitis B serologic markers in babies born to hepatitis B surface antigen positive mothers.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital of Fudan University, 183 Fenglin Road, Shanghai 200032, China.



To better understand the clinical significance of hepatitis B serologic markers in babies born to hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive mothers, the incidence of maternal serologic markers of hepatitis B via placenta and its transformation in these babies were investigated.


Mothers with positive HBsAg were selected in the third trimester of pregnancy. Their babies received immunoprophylaxis with hepatitis B immunoglobulin and hepatitis B vaccine after birth, and were consecutively followed up for hepatitis B serologic markers and HBV DNA at birth, mo 1, 4, 7, 12, and 24.


Forty-two babies entered the study, including 16 born to hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive HBsAg carrier mothers and 26 to HBeAg-negative HBsAg carrier mothers. Apart from four babies born to HBeAg-positive carrier mothers and demonstrated persistent positive HBeAg eventually became HBV carriers, all other babies developed anti-HBs before 12 mo of age. Among the other 12 babies born to HBeAg-positive carrier mothers, HBeAg was detected in 7 at birth, in 4 at mo 1, and in none of them thereafter. No antibody response to the transplacental HBeAg was detected. Among the babies born to HBeAg-negative carrier mothers, anti-HBe was detected 100% at birth and mo 1, in 88.5% at mo 4, in 46.2% at mo 7, in 4.2% at mo 12 and none in mo 24. Among all the immunoprophylaxis-protected babies born to either HBeAg-positive or HBeAg-negative carrier mothers, anti-HBc was detected in 100% at birth, mo 1 and mo 4, in 78.9% at mo 7, in 36.1% at mo 12 and in none at mo 24.


HBeAg can pass through human placenta from mother to fetus and become undetectable before 4 mo of age, but no antibodies response to the transplacental HBeAg can be detected till mo 24 in the immunoprophylaxis-protected babies. The sole existence of anti-HBe before 1 year of age or anti-HBc before 2 years of age in babies born to HBsAg carrier mothers may simply represent the transplacental maternal antibodies, instead of indicators of HBV infection status.

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