HBV study conducted on pregnant women in Nigeria

A study on the seroprevalence and prevention of vertical transmission of the hepatitis B virus in pregnant women was recently conducted in Nigeria.

The research was undertaken by scientists at the antenatal clinic of the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital in Osogbo. The study made use of 200 venous samples from pregnant women subjected to a full blood count and analyzed for the presence of the HBV surface antigen.

The prevalence of the HBV surface antigen in pregnant women was found to be 16.5 percent overall. Approximately 23.3 percent of pregnant women aged 30-34 had the antigen and it was found in none of the subjects over the age of 40.

Transmission of HBV is considered parenteral, sexual and perinatal. Infection early in life usually results in the infected developing into a chronic carrier.

"We advocate universal free screening of pregnant women as the endemicity of HBV infections is thus being propagated," the study's authors said.

HBV attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. It is generally transmitted though contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids and is considered 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV. Nearly 600,000 people die every year as a consequence of HBV infection, according to the World Health Organization.