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Before the era of routine hepatitis B vaccination, an estimated 24,000 children acquired hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection each year in the United States. Childhood hepatitis B immunization has led to significant declines in the incidence and prevalence of HBV infection in U.S. children. Because the greatest burden of hepatitis B is caused by complications of hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis in adults who were infected with HBV as children, most of the benefits of vaccination have yet to be realized. Reaching the goal of eliminating HBV transmission to children likely will require increasing vaccination coverage, ensuring timely administration of postexposure immunoprophylaxis to prevent more perinatal infections, and continued evaluation of the impact of immunization recommendations.

(C) 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.