Mother-to-Child Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus in Ethiopia
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionVaccines. 2021, 9 (5), . 10.3390/vaccines9050430
High viral load and positive hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) results are risk factors for mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of hepatitis B virus (HBV). In sub-Saharan Africa, little is known about the distribution of these risk factors, as well as early childhood HBV transmission. In this study, Ethiopian women aged 18-45 years with chronic hepatitis B were assessed for the presence of HBeAg and high viral load. Their children below 4 years of age were invited for assessment of viral markers, defining active HBV infection as a positive hepatitis B s-antigen (HBsAg) and/or detectable HBV DNA. In total, 61 of 428 HBV-infected women (14.3%) had a positive HBeAg result and/or a high viral load. Of note, 26 of 49 women (53.1%) with viral load above 200,000 IU/mL were HBeAg negative. Among 89 children born of HBV-infected mothers (median age 20 months), 9 (10.1%) had evidence of active HBV infection. In conclusion, one in seven women with chronic hepatitis B had risk factors for MTCT, and HBeAg was a poor predictor of high viral load. One in ten children born of HBV-infected women acquired HBV-infection despite completing their scheduled HBV vaccination at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age.