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Stepped-up vaccine series for hepatitis B is effective during pregnancy
Date:6/27/2011

DALLAS June 28, 2011 UT Southwestern Medical Center maternal-fetal specialists have confirmed a potential new protocol to protect pregnant women who are at risk for hepatitis B, a health problem that affects 2 billion people worldwide.

An accelerated hepatitis B vaccination schedule for high-risk pregnant women was found effective and well-tolerated. The findings appear in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

While the normal three-shot regimen of hepatitis B vaccine for adults given over a six-month period has long been recommended for pregnant women, that schedule often proved unmanageable in the course of a pregnancy.

"It's difficult to get all three doses in pregnancy, and people tend to get lost to follow-up, especially high-risk populations," said Dr. Jeanne Sheffield, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study.

The research team stepped up the process for pregnant women and used the normal three-shot dosage given to adults over a 12-week period. That regimen is the shortest recommended schedule in nonpregnant adults that still offers protective long-term immunity.

"Now that we've shown it's efficacious in pregnancy, people are interested," said Dr. Sheffield, who also heads UT Southwestern's maternal-fetal medicine fellowship program. "We've already received a number of requests for our specific protocol from physicians who see high-risk patients and are interested in starting a vaccination program."

In the U.S., nearly 1.5 million people live with chronic hepatitis B infection, and it is the underlying cause of 3,000 deaths per year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended in 1993 and in 2007 that pregnant women at risk for hepatitis B should receive vaccination.

Dr. Sheffield said, however, that health care providers seldom offer the hepatitis B vaccine series to reproductive-aged women because of
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Contact: Robin Russell
robin.russel@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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