Hepatitis is a serious inflammatory disease of the liver. It is estimated that close to 50,000 Ghanaians are living with Hepatitis B virus infection. With a mortality rate of 35%, the disease requires efficient management to ensure it does not progress to Liver Cancer and its related complications.
Hepatitis B is transmitted primarily through body fluids. These include: saliva, discharge, semen and sweat. The reason why Hepatitis B has been tagged as a silent killer is because, you can live without any symptoms for years. And once you find out how far the infection has progressed in your body, it might be too late to mitigate the outcomes. Currently, Hepatitis B has no known cure, and only palliative management exists for Hepatitis B positive patients.
During pregnancy, the foetus is particularly vulnerable to being infected if its mother is already Hepatitis B positive. The infection is known to cross the placenta, attacking the developing liver of the baby, then heading straight to the baby's brain, to cause inflammation of the meninges, leading to hepatic encephalitis. Often times, the infection rechannels bile acid sequestration route, leading to severe biliary atresia of the new born. And all these clinical outcome are deadly.
In other to mitigate these futuristic outcomes, it is Paramount that pregnant mothers take their medications on time and without delay, if they truly care about the babies not developing these painful outcomes that comes with neonatal hepatitis B infection. Once the baby is delivered, mother should cease giving breast milk to the baby until the baby is given an injection of the hepatitis B immunoglobulin, a vaccine that has been made to reduce the ongoing damage that had already began in pregnancy. Also, mothers who have tested positive must as a matter of urgency, reduce kissing and other fluid exchanging activities with their babies.
It is rather refreshing to know that, the baby is likely to test negative to the hepatitis B virus if strict nutrition and breast feeding, in addition to complementary diets are enforced by the mother from age 0 to 3 years.
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