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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1989 Sep-Oct;83(5):698-700.

Prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen in pregnant mothers and its perinatal transmission.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.


1000 pairs of maternal and cord blood samples were collected simultaneously at the time of delivery. 23 (2.3%) of the maternal samples were positive for HBsAg by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HBeAg was detected in 11 (47%) of the 23 HBsAg positive mothers and anti-HBeAg was detected in another 5 samples. HBsAg and HBeAg were detected in 7 (30%) of the 23 cord blood samples from HBsAg-positive mothers, and anti-HBeAg was detected in one of these samples. At follow-up (6-18 months), antigenaemia had persisted in 17 (85%) of the 20 HBsAg-positive mothers and in 9 (45%) of 20 babies born to HBsAg-positive mothers. Seven of the 10 babies (70%) born to mothers positive for both HBsAg and HBeAg had persistent HBsAg in their blood, in contrast to 2 of the 10 babies (20%) born to mothers positive for HBsAg only. However, none of these mothers or their babies were found to have anti-HBeAg at follow-up. We conclude that the presence of HBeAg in mothers' blood enhances vertical transmission of hepatitis B virus infection to their babies.

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