California Pacific Medical Center, 2340 Clay Street, Suite 312, San Francisco, CA 94115 USA.
Women of childbearing age with recognized hepatitis B infection should have their liver disease assessed before pregnancy occurs since the management of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in this setting is complex. Initiation of treatment in a woman of child-bearing age will depend on when she intends on conceiving, as well as the severity of her liver disease. During pregnancy, all decisions about initiating, continuing or stopping HBV therapy must include an analysis of the risks and benefits for both mother and fetus. The trimester of the pregnancy and the stage of the mother's liver disease are important factors. Treatment in the third trimester may be considered to aid in prevention of perinatal transmission, which appears to be most pronounced in mothers with high viral loads. Consideration of initiation of third trimester treatment should occur after a high viral load is documented in the latter part of the second trimester, to allow adequate time for initiation of antiviral therapy with significant viral suppression before delivery. This discussion should include the topic of breastfeeding, since it is generally not recommended while on antiviral therapy. Until recently lamivudine and tenofovir appeared to be the therapeutic options with the most reasonable safety data in pregnancy. There are emerging data that telbivudine may also be considered in this setting.