Hepatitis B is a serious viral disease that can damage the liver. Babies are exposed to it at the time of birth if the mother has the disease or is a chronic asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Vaccinating the baby at the time of birth is an effective way to prevent the infection in newborns (for those known to have been exposed, we also provide an injection of immune globulin). Because there are no side effects to immunizing the baby as an infant, pediatricians and public health officials urge that babies be immunized.
More Answers from Ian R. Holzman, MD