The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended screening pregnant women from high-risk populations for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). To assess the adequacy of the risk criteria, all women presenting for delivery to a large municipal hospital were screened. Sera from 5356 women were tested, and questionnaires designed to identify women at high risk were completed by 78% of these patients. Sixty-four women were found to be HBsAg seropositive (1.2%). If the CDC criteria had been applied for screening, 30 of the seropositive mothers (47%) would not have been identified. Women from some Latin American and Caribbean countries not recommended for screening were found to have a relatively high prevalence of hepatitis B infection. Reluctance to give a history of venereal disease or illicit drug use may be another factor in the failure of the CDC screening strategy. To achieve effective immunoprophylaxis of newborns, all pregnant women should be screened for HBsAg carriage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine