Passing hepatitis B from mother to child halted with vaccine

The passing of the hepatitis B virus, a primary cause of liver cancer, from mother to child can be virtually eliminated by immunizing high-risk newborns within hours of birth and following up with vaccinations over the baby's first six months of life, according to a large Northern California Kaiser study published Monday.

The study is considered the first, large-scale research into how effective the decades-old recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in preventing infected mothers from spreading the liver disease to their babies.

"Hepatitis is quite devastating if you transmit it to your child," said Dr. Lyle Shlager, a gastroenterologist at Kaiser's San Francisco medical center and a co-author of the study.

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