Hepatitis B: How We Treat

How does Children’s Hospital Colorado treat hepatitis B?

Many hepatitis B patients spontaneously clear the virus without treatment. The virus may cause a more severe infection or become chronic, causing liver scarring (cirrhosis) over the years or increase the risk of liver cancer.

It is not clear why one person completely recovers while another develops a chronic infection, but the age at which infection occurs can affect chance of recovery: Newborns run a 90 to 95% risk of becoming chronically infected, while the risk decreases with increasing age at acquisition. People with other underlying liver disease also have a higher risk of complications if also infected with hepatitis B.

Medical therapies at Children’s Colorado are also available for children with symptomatic, chronic hepatitis B infection. These therapies are usually given for at least six months. The liver specialist will decide if and when medical therapy is indicated.

Do doctors recommend the hepatitis B vaccine?

The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants and children. The vaccine preparations available in the U.S. contain a purified part of the virus protein. It cannot cause infection and is very safe.

A series of three injections (shots) is necessary to ensure a person develops protection against the virus. In newborns of an infected mother, combining the hepatitis B vaccine with another medication called hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) has been shown to dramatically decrease the risk of chronic infection.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for hepatitis B treatment?

The Digestive Health Institute at Children’s Colorado is consistently ranked among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the treatment of digestive disorders. We are one of the only Pediatric Liver Centers in the nation that has six board-certified hepatologists (liver specialists), as well as a nationally-recognized Infectious Disease team with expertise in infectious hepatitis.