(HealthDay News) — The first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine should be given within the first 24 hours of life, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement published in Pediatrics.

Noting that about 1,000 new cases of perinatal hepatitis B infection are identified annually in the United States, researchers from the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Fetus and Newborn issued recommendations for the prevention of perinatal hepatitis B.

To ensure administration of appropriate postexposure immunoprophylaxis with hepatitis B vaccine and immune globulin, prevention of perinatal hepatitis B relies on the proper and timely identification of infants born to mothers who are hepatitis B surface antigen positive and to mothers with unknown status. The AAP supports removal of permissive language for delaying the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine and, for all medically stable infants weighing greater than or equal to 2,000 g, endorse the recommendation for giving the birth vaccine within the first 24 hours of life in order to further reduce the incidence of perinatal hepatitis B transmission.

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“After completion of a 3- or 4-dose hepatitis B vaccine series, 98% of healthy term infants achieve protective antibody concentrations,” the authors write.

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Committee on Infectious Diseases, Committee on Fetus and Newborn. Elimination of perinatal hepatitis B: Providing the first vaccine dose within 24 hours of birth [published online August 28, 2017]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-1870