How can I protect my children from hepatitis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Hepatitis A
Although vaccination protects your children from hepatitis B, they can still become infected with hepatitis A. To help prevent hepatitis A, which is common among children, discourage your child from sharing eating utensils and drinking ware. Remind them to wash their hands after using the bathroom, and before handling food. A vaccine for hepatitis A is also available.

Hepatitis B
The best way to protect your child from hepatitis B is get them immunized for HBV. It is recommended that infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine at birth. Children and young adults should get vaccinated if they weren't immunized at birth.

Hepatitis C
To help prevent hepatitis C, discourage your child from touching blood or other peoples' open sores, avoid drug use, unprotected sex and unsanitary tattooing or piercing procedures. Teach them not to share personal hygiene products like toothbrushes or nail clippers. Remind them to wash their hands frequently, which is the best way to avoid many diseases. Although a vaccine for hepatitis C is not available, preventive behaviors can help reduce your child's risk of infection.

Dr. Iris M. Rodriguez-Ocasio, MD

Hepatitis B is transmitted through infected blood or body fluids. According to the 2009 Red Book, since 1990, the incidence of acute hepatitis B has declined in all age categories, with the largest decline being in children younger than 15 years of age. Thanks to a comprehensive immunization strategy in the United States this decline has been possible. Universal immunization of infants beginning at birth and following the pertussis schedule is the first line of defense. Second, routine immunization of children and adolescents who previously who have not been immunized has also been implemented.

Three shots of the hepatitis B vaccine will protect a baby against this virus, which can cause serious liver disease later in life. Your baby should receive the first shot of vaccine before leaving the hospital. The second and third shots will be given at about one to two months old and at six to 18 months old by your pediatrician. The vaccine is safe, with no serious illness related to it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.