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INADEQUATE HOSPTIAL PRACTICES TO PREVENT MOTHER-TO-CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HEPATITIS B VIRUS INFECTION: A EUROPEAN SURVEY.

OBJECTIVES: Prevention of vertical transmission of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is crucial to eliminate viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030. We aimed to assess the current hospital policies and practices implemented before, at, and after birth, and to evaluate potential barriers to the full application of international guidelines.

METHODS: A web-based survey was supported by Penta Foundation and distributed across Europe from October to December 2021.

RESULTS: Overall, 76 centers with delivery departments completed the survey. HBsAg maternal screening is performed in the first trimester of pregnancy in 53% of the centers and in the third in 46%. HBsAg positive pregnant women are tested for serologic HBV markers and HBV-DNA in 78% and 63% of the departments; 38% of the HBeAg positive women with high HBV-DNA levels are treated during the last trimester of pregnancy. At birth, 91% of the departments administer HBV vaccine to infants born to HBsAg positive mothers within 12 hours of birth; 74% test women with unknown HBsAg status and 78% of them wait for the maternal testing results before administering HBV vaccine to their newborns. After birth, 47% of the departments provide post-vaccination serological testing for infants born to HBsAg positive mothers. The timing of the HBV vaccine schedule varies greatly.

CONCLUSIONS: There is significant heterogeneity in the hospital policies and correlated procedures. The implementation of a multidisciplinary clinical pathway is a must if a stronger connection between the prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal phases is to be established.

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