Screening for Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Pregnant Women: Evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement

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Screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in pregnant women to identify newborns who will require prophylaxis against perinatal infection is a well-established, evidence-based standard of current medical practice. In 2004, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended universal screening of pregnant women for HBV infection at the first prenatal visit.


To search for large, high-quality studies related to hepatitis B screening in pregnancy that have been published since the 2004 USPSTF recommendation.

Data Sources:

English-language studies indexed in PubMed and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and published between 1 January 2001 and 5 March 2008.

Study Selection:

For benefits of screening and newborn prophylaxis, we included systematic reviews; meta-analyses; and randomized, controlled trials. For harms of screening, we included systematic reviews; meta-analyses; randomized, controlled trials; cohort studies; case–control studies; and case series of large, multisite databases. Abstracts and full articles were independently reviewed for inclusion by both reviewers.

Data Extraction:

Data on the benefits of screening, including benefits of hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine prophylaxis of newborns of hepatitis B surface antigen–positive mothers, were extracted by 1 reviewer.

Data Synthesis:

No new studies met inclusion criteria. A 2006 systematic review of randomized, controlled trials found that newborn prophylaxis reduced perinatal transmission of HBV infection; all relevant trials were published in 1996 or earlier.


The focused search strategy, which was restricted to English-language articles, may have missed some smaller studies or new research published in languages other than English.


No new evidence was found on the benefits or harms of screening for HBV infection in pregnant women. Previously published randomized trials support the 2004 USPSTF recommendation for screening.

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