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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

New plan to reduce Hepatitis-B virus mother-to-child infection

Dr. SK Sarin, ILBS Vice-Chancellor, said, “Our aim is to make up to 100 hepatitis B mothers ambassadors for the Womb program in the next year. They will educate themselves and in turn educate other mothers about how to lead a healthy life.”

On the occasion of the 25th edition of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi on Saturday launched a special program – Victory over Hepatitis B Mothers (womb) to spread awareness about maternal transmission of hepatitis B to the child.

Dr. SK Sarin, ILBS Vice-Chancellor, said, “Our aim is to make up to 100 hepatitis B mothers ambassadors for the Womb program in the next year. They will educate themselves and in turn educate other mothers about how to lead a healthy life.”

ILBS will tie up with the Delhi government to attach more medical institutes to expand the reach of the program, Sarin added.

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The Yellow Ribbon campaign, launched in 1998, aims to raise public awareness of viral hepatitis. This year’s theme was Eradication of hepatitis: social responsibility.

Data shows that at least 20-30% of the total hepatitis B infections in India are mother-to-child transmission. Records also show that in at least 90% of cases, an infected mother will pass the infection on to her child.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines hepatitis B as a viral infection that affects the liver and can cause both acute and chronic infections.

Chronic infection occurs in the majority (90%) of infants infected by their mothers before the age of five.

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“Worldwide, the most common route of transmission of hepatitis B is from mother to child during childbirth (vertical transmission) and also through horizontal transmission in early childhood… Mother-to-child transmission is more common in children born to women who have high levels of the hepatitis B virus in their blood (known as HBV viral load),” the WHO document says.

Health experts have reported that in the absence of any preventive interventions, the risk of mother-to-child transmission ranges from 70% to 90% for mothers with a high viral load (or are HBeAg positive) and from 10% to 40% for mothers who are HBeAg negative.

Dr. Vandana Bagga, Director, of the Directorate of Family Welfare, said that apart from creating awareness, screening of mothers is also important.

“Screening is a very important aspect of early detection of hepatitis. Apart from this, we are also working towards complete immunization so that no child is left behind,” said Dr. Bagga.

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