What are the pros and cons of having a newborn vaccinated for hepatitis b – quora la gas prices average


Once a baby enters the world, it is bombarded by millions of pathogens. Bacteria (good and bad) live on our skin, and viruses can lurk on everyday objects and even float in the air. No matter how careful you are, you can’t protect your child from all or even most of the germs that live among us.

A model created by researchers at the University of California San Diego even showed that given the number of B-cells in the body and the rate at which they can produce antibodies, a baby’s immune system could theoretically handle literally thousands of vaccines at one time.

This is largely due to the small number of antigens (the trigger that produces an immune response) actually used in vaccines today. A typical, naturally occurring bacterium contains thousands of antigens. And remember that your baby will be exposed to millions of bacteria each day. Vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of that. In reality, the burden on an infant’s immune system through immunization is minuscule compared to its standard, everyday workload.

Furthermore, the Hep B vaccine is not made using any type of infectious material, so you can’t get the disease from it, and studies have shown it to be one of the safest vaccines on the market. Most people (adults and babies alike) will have no adverse reaction, and those that do have only mild side effects like soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site, or a slight fever.

The reason why it’s recommended to vaccinate infants is because – while rare – Hep B is kind of scary. Many people who have Hep B do not show any symptoms or even know that they are infected, and so spread the disease without even realizing it. And despite popular belief, it’s not just a sexually transmitted disease. It’s spread through other bodily fluids as well – and can even be transmitted through sharing seemingly harmless items like toothbrushes, nail clippers or razors.

If your body is unable to fight off the virus, it can cause chronic liver damage or cirrhosis of the liver. Less than 5 percent of adults who are infected will reach that point, but nearly all infants and roughly half of all children with Hep B will develop a chronic infection that could lead to severe complications and even death.

That is why it is so important to vaccinate infants and young children – no matter how small their risk of infection. While their little bodies can handle the small number of epitopes in the vaccine, they can’t easily defend themselves against a full-on assault by the virus itself.

During my active years as a physician, I’ve seen how thoughts on hepatitis B (and prevention) evolved, from at first a clinical diagnosis without being able to identify the offending virus, but the knowledge it could be transmitted from person to person by using the same needle (or vaccination stylus) for vaccination shots, and through blood transfusion, later when the protein envelope part of it was identified (and misnamed Australia antigen because it was first found in an Australian aborigine) in 1965 so we soon had our first serologic test and we started to understand the natural history of the disease.

We though we knew who were at high risk, being i.v. drug users sharing needles, men having sex with men, sex workers, and health workers who by e.g. needle stick accidents or by handling patient’s bodily fluids without gloves while having small abrasions, cuts and wounds on the hands were exposed to bodily fluids from patients, and luckily due to screening procedures of the donors now in the past patients needing blood products.

This coupled with the fact that childhood infection (versus infection in adulthood) often went unnoticed (no jaundice in 50-70%, just some flu like symptoms) resulted in a high percentage of chronic hepatitis B disease (90% in infants infected by their mothers at birth, 30-50% infected before the age of 5, compared to 6-10% infected as an adult), which in turn causes quite some morbidity and mortality through liver cirrhosis (occuring in 2-5,4 per 100 person years of chronic Hepatitis B patients, with high mortality: compensated 16%, decompensated 65-86%!) and hepatocellular cancer=HCC (people with chronic Hepatitis B have 100 times higher chance of developing HCC even not having liver cirrhosis) shifted the aim from vaccination of perceived at risk groups to vaccination to eradicate hepatitis B, starting with the first shot soon after birth before leaving the hospital because infection with Hepatitis B as a young child is so threatening because of the high chance of developing a chronic Hepatitis B infection with all the negative implications that entails see above.

I don’t have the medical chops of the other commenters, but that rarely stops me from giving my views. Robyn Carlyle gave a great explanation of how the immune system works. In a nutshell, it helps if you think about it as loads alnd loads of cells that are all looking for pathogens. When they encounter something hinky, they tag it and tell other cells about it. That’s why your body can deal with all the various things they face at once. They have strength in numbers. There’s no "Central office" to get backed up.

But another reason is that the standard schedule makes things less likely to slip through the cracks. Our medical records are long and complex. Our lives are even more complex. By waiting, it becomes more likely that there will be a mistake that will result in being unvaccinated. And while even an unvaccinated person is unlikely to get this disease, it’s really nasty. The liver is really important and damage to it will make your child suffer horribly. To me, it’s a no-brainer to never want this to happen to your child.

As for unknown vaccine risks, they may exist. Nobody can rule them out. However, we have vaccinated so many people that we can say that any risks are extremely small. Miniscule. The reason we haven’t found them is because the incidence of these risks is hard to see compared to the normal risk of getting whatever it is. We’re talking odd like winning the lottery here. Except that you only buy one ticket and only play once.