Hepatitis B Virus is a major public health problem worldwide. In 2012 alone, over 350 million chronic carriers and 1. 2 million annual deaths were occurred. Hepatitis B Virus causes 60 to 80% of the world’s primary liver cancer and nearly 90% infants infected due to vertical transmission are at higher risk of developing chronic liver disease and cancer. Hence determining the burden of maternal and neonatal Hepatitis B Virus infection is a priority.
A cross sectional study was conducted from July – September 2012 at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College and Selam Health Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Blood samples from delivering mothers (n = 265) and their corresponding cords (n = 265) were collected. A pretested questionnaire was used to collect data. Hepatitis B Virus surface antigen was detected using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay. Frequency analysis and logistic regression test was used to identify the potential risk factors associated with Hepatitis B Virus positivity using SPSS Version -15.
A total of 265 delivering women with the mean age of 25.8 years were enrolled in the study. Of these delivering women, 8 (3.0%) of mothers were positive for Hepatitis B Virus surface antigen, whereas 6 (2.3%) of cord bloods were positives with 75% concordance rate of exposed infants with sero-positive mothers. However, only one maternal positive case was observed for Hepatitis B e Ag test. Only 11% of the mothers know their Hepatitis B Virus status. Of the total mothers assessed for possible risk factors, 69 (26%) had only one type, while 161 (60.8%) had multiple exposure factors such as ear pricing, history of tribal marks, abortion, multiple-sexual partner and history of surgical procedures experienced from high to low frequency. The remaining 35 (13.2%) of the participants had not experienced possible risk factors.
Though the maternal positivity rate was low, the rate of positivity in cord bloods was almost equal to those infected mothers. Therefore, screening of pregnant mothers and vaccination of infants could help to reduce the transmission. To minimize the higher overall risk exposure status of mothers, increasing awareness and intensive public health education is also recommended.