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Vaccine. 2011 Nov 21;29(50):9303-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.10.028. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Universal screening for hepatitis B among pregnant women led to 96% vaccination coverage among newborns of HBsAg positive mothers in Denmark.

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Department of Epidemiology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


In Denmark selective screening programs of pregnant women for hepatitis B missed 30-50% of high-risk groups and in late 2005 a universal screening of pregnant women for HBsAg was implemented. During a 2-year period a prospective enhanced surveillance of the universal screening was performed to examine the effectiveness of universal HBV-screening of pregnant women and HBV-immunizations of their newborn, and to provide a prevalence-estimate for HBV in Denmark. On a opt out basis all women in Denmark attending antenatal care were tested for hepatitis B serology. Vaccination data of the newborns and households of HBsAg positive pregnant women were assembled. Among 140,376 HBsAg tests of pregnant women, 371 (0.26%) were positive. The prevalence among women of Danish origin was 0.012% and 2.74% among foreign born women, highest for women from Southeast Asia (14.5%). Genotype C was the most prevalent (37%) and 13% had a HBVDNA ≥10(8) IU/ml. The prevalence estimate of chronic hepatitis B in Denmark was 0.2-0.3% in the general population. Among children born within the project period, 96% received vaccination at birth compared to 50% of siblings born prior to universal screening. During 3 years of passive follow-up two transmissions (0.5%) have been notified. Among children born of the positive mothers prior to the trial-period 7.3% had been notified. Thus the prevalence of HBV positive mothers has more than doubled in Denmark over the last 40 years, but among women of Danish origin it has decreased 10-fold. By replacing selective screening with universal, identification of newborns in need of HBV-immunization was increased from 50% to almost complete coverage, and also identifies mothers with high viral load for evaluation of pre-term treatment to interrupt in utero transmission.

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