Final Recommendation Statement
Hepatitis B in Pregnant Women: Screening
June 15, 2009
Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
An estimated 24,000 infants are born each year to women in the United States who are infected with HBV. Between 30% and 40% of all chronic HBV infections result from perinatal transmission. Chronic HBV infections increase long-term morbidity and mortality by predisposing infected persons to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
The principal screening test for detecting maternal HBV infection is the serologic identification of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Immunoassays for detecting HBsAg have a reported sensitivity and specificity greater than 98%.
Benefits of Detection and Early Intervention
The USPSTF found convincing evidence that universal prenatal screening for HBV infection substantially reduces perinatal transmission of HBV and the subsequent development of chronic HBV infection. The current practice of vaccinating all infants against HBV infection and providing postexposure prophylaxis with hepatitis B immune globulin administered at birth to infants of mothers infected with HBV substantially reduces the risk for acquiring HBV infection.
Harms of Detection and Early Intervention
The USPSTF found no published studies that describe harms of screening for HBV infection in pregnant women. The USPSTF concluded that the potential harms of screening are no greater than small.
The USPSTF concludes that there is high certainty that the net benefit of screening pregnant women for HBV infection is substantial.
Patient Population Under Consideration
This recommendation applies to all pregnant women.
Screening for HBV infection by testing for HBsAg should be performed in each pregnancy, regardless of previous hepatitis B vaccination or previous negative HBsAg test results.
Timing of Screening
A test for HBsAg should be ordered at the first prenatal visit with other recommended screening tests. At the time of admission to a hospital, birth center, or other delivery setting, women with unknown HBsAg status or with new or continuing risk factors for HBV infection (such as injection drug use or evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease) should receive screening.
Infants born to HBV-infected mothers should receive hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of birth. Infants born to mothers with unknown HBsAg status should receive hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth, followed by hepatitis B immune globulin as soon as possible (but not later than 7 days after birth) if the mother tests positive for HBsAg.
Pregnant women who test positive for HBsAg should be referred to an appropriate case-management program and should be provided with or referred for counseling and medical management of HBV infection. Counseling should include information about prevention of HBV transmission to sexual partners and household contacts and reassurance regarding the safety of breastfeeding in infants who receive appropriate prophylaxis.
Screening for HBV infection in pregnant women is necessary but not sufficient to prevent disease transmission to newborns. To realize the maximum benefit from screening, primary care clinicians and delivery settings must establish effective systems for the accurate and timely transfer of maternal HBsAg test results to the labor, delivery, and newborn medical records.
Research is needed to assess the effect of long-standing universal childhood hepatitis B vaccination on the magnitude of benefit of screening for HBV infection in U.S.-born pregnant women. Research is also needed to determine the net health benefit to the mother and infant of treating pregnant women whose chronic HBV infections are identified by prenatal screening.
In 2004, the USPSTF reviewed the evidence for screening for HBV infection in pregnant women and found that the benefits of screening substantially outweighed the harms.1 In 2008, the USPSTF performed a brief literature update2 and determined that the net benefit of screening pregnant women for hepatitis B continues to be well established. This update included a search for new and substantial evidence on the benefits and harms of screening. The USPSTF found no new substantial evidence that could change its recommendation and, therefore, reaffirms its recommendation to screen pregnant women for hepatitis B at their first prenatal visit. The previous recommendation statement3 and evidence review, as well as the current summary of the updated literature search, can be found at https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/.
The American Academy of Family Physicians strongly recommends screening for HBV infection in pregnant women at their first prenatal visit.4 This recommendation is available at https://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/clinical/exam.html.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends routine screening of all pregnant women with HBsAg.5
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends HBsAg testing for all pregnant adolescents "at the time a pregnancy is discovered, regardless of hepatitis B immunization history and previous results of tests for HBsAg and antibody to HBsAg."6 This recommendation is available at https://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2006/1/2.9.2.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women be tested routinely for HBsAg during an early prenatal visit (for example, first trimester) in each pregnancy, even if they have been previously vaccinated or tested.7 This recommendation is available at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5416a1.htm?s_cid=rr5416a1_e.
Members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force* are Ned Calonge, MD, MPH, Chair (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, Colorado); Diana B. Petitti, MD, MPH, Vice-Chair (Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona); Thomas G. DeWitt, MD (Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio); Allen J. Dietrich, MD (Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire); Kimberly D. Gregory, MD, MPH (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California); David Grossman, MD (Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington); George Isham, MD, MS (HealthPartners, Minneapolis, Minnesota); Michael L. LeFevre, MD, MSPH (University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri); Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York); Lucy N. Marion, PhD, RN (School of Nursing, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia); Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN (Arizona State University College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation, Phoenix, Arizona); Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas); Judith K. Ockene, PhD (University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts); George F. Sawaya, MD (University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California); J. Sanford Schwartz, MD (University of Pennsylvania Medical School and the Wharton School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); and Timothy Wilt, MD, MPH (University of Minnesota Department of Medicine and Minneapolis Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota).
*Members of the Task Force at the time this recommendation was finalized. For a list of current Task Force members, go to https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/about-uspstf/current-members.
Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This document is in the public domain within the United States.
Requests for linking or to incorporate content in electronic resources should be sent via the USPSTF contact form.
Source: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Pregnancy: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med 2009;150:869-73.
- Krishnaraj R. Screening for hepatitis B virus infection: a brief evidence update for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2004.
- Lin K, Vickery J. Screening for hepatitis B virus infection in pregnant women: evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med 2009;150:874-6.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for hepatitis B virus infection: recommendation statement. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2004.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. Summary of recommendations for clinical preventive services. AAFP Policy Action, revision 6.4. Leawood, KS: American Academy of Family Physicians; 2007.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 86: Viral hepatitis in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2007;110:941-56. [PMID: 17906043]
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Red Book. 27th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2006.
- Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). A comprehensive immunization strategy to eliminate transmission of hepatitis B virus infection in the United States: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) part 1: immunization of infants, children, and adolescents. MMWR Recomm Rep 2005;54:1-31. [PMID: 16371945]