Genetics Northern California

Hepatitis B Screening Program

Program Background

The Regional Perinatal Screening Hepatitis B program started in 1988. This program tracks mothers who test positive for hepatitis B and checks to make sure their infants get all the needed vaccines to prevent infection. Nearly 100% of infants born to mothers with hepatitis B at KPNC receive their vaccines on time.

  • The Hepatitis B Screening Program number is 510-752-6191.

Prenatal Screening
All women should be tested for the hepatitis B virus (HBV) early in pregnancy.  A pregnant woman with HBV can pass the virus to her baby. Without treatment, her baby could get infected and become an HBV carrier. About 1 in 4 HBV carriers develop liver failure or liver cancer during their life. 

At Kaiser Permanente, every pregnant woman has HBV testing as part of her early prenatal blood tests. Testing shows if a woman carries HBV. If she is a carrier, her baby will be given vaccines at birth and during infancy to protect the baby from the virus.

Pediatric Follow-up
Babies born to mothers with HBV get two vaccines (HBIG and Hepatitis B vaccine) within 12 hours of birth. Another hepatitis B vaccine is given at one to two months of age, and another one at six months of age. At nine to twelve months old these babies are tested to make sure they have the antibodies needed for protection.  The Regional Perinatal Screening program checks that all vaccines and blood tests are done at the right times. 

It is also important that all family and household members be tested for HBV. An HBV vaccine helps protect people of all ages from infection.  

Medical Follow-up

Hepatitis B is a virus that affects people of all ages worldwide. Many people who get HBV do not have symptoms. 

Most adults recover from HBV after several months. They clear the virus from their bodies and won't get hepatitis B again. About 10% of adults and most young children who are infected with HBV are unable to clear the virus and become HBV carriers. Most HBV carriers have no serious problems and lead normal healthy lives. However, HBV carriers are at risk for liver failure and liver cancer. 

Anyone found to be an HBV carrier should talk with their medical doctor. Blood tests can check the liver and look for early signs of liver cancer. If the liver tests show abnormal results, a specialist may be consulted.

The following links answer the most common questions about hepatitis B and being a hepatitis B carrier: 

Where to get more information:
American Liver Foundation
Asian Liver Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Hepatitis B Foundation
Hepatitis Foundation International
HebB Moms - Online resource for mothers-to-be
Immunization Action Coalition
Vaccine Information for the Public and Health Professionals

Last reviewed: March 2021
Reviewed by: Dena Lakritz, RN, MPH