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Liver Cancer | DR ELLIE CANNON: Hepatitis B Vaccine For Infants Is Crucial

By Dr Ellie Cannon


Babies currently have a five-in-one jab at two months to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Hib.

Now Ministers are considering adding a vaccine for hepatitis B to this.

Each year about 325,000 Britons are diagnosed with the virus – which can cause liver cancer – almost double the number a decade ago.

DR ELLIE CANNON explains why parents should welcome the move.

Hepatitis B is thought to be 100 times more infectious than the HIV virus. If a pregnant woman has hepatitis B, the chances of passing it on to her unborn baby are high. Adults contract the virus through sexual contact with carriers, or from infected blood, for example, through a needlestick injury. The vaccine is already widely used in this country for all prisoners and for all adult healthcare professionals, such as myself. It is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in many parts of Europe, Australia and the USA. Protecting babies in infancy is a sensible way to lower infection rates.

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Hepatitis B causes damage to the liver. In most cases this results in an acute infection where sufferers become weak, have flu-like symptoms and can become jaundiced. This lasts a few months after which the majority will clear the virus and will no longer

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