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A member asked:

why does my child need a hepatitis b vaccine if he is not yet at risk of contracting the disease?

7 doctor answers16 doctors weighed in
Dr. Scott Tomaine
Pediatrics 20 years experience
Dangerous disease: Newborns are at risk of hepatits b if the mom is infected and doesn't know it. Some people are silent carriers of this disease. I recommend it at birth even if mom tests negative because it is a safe, effective vaccine against a very bad disease, which causes liver cancer and cirrhosis. It is a series of three shots, and it is required for school attendance.
Dr. Marcus Degraw
Pediatrics 22 years experience
Life time risk of 5%: Overall lifetime risk of contracting hepatitis b is approaching 5% and higher for some people and in some locations. In addition, shots work far better in younger people and even better in infants, thus the majority of shots being given at this age bracket. Even teenaged patients are ancient when it comes to immunologic response to vaccines and this is the main reason to immunize at a young age.
Dr. Marc Grella
Pediatrics 28 years experience
Safe and effective: Hepatitis b is a serious disease; it can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis. Expectant mothers are tested for hep b during pregnancy but they may become infected after testing is done. To assure a baby never gets this disease, hep b vaccine is used at birth. The vaccine is safe and it works. In addition, we never think our kids are "at risk" of getting an "adult" disease; until they have it.
Dr. Robert Lowe
Dr. Robert Lowe commented
Pediatric Rheumatology 17 years experience
It is also less expensive to immunize infants due to the smaller amounts of vaccine used.There is absolutely no reason to not vaccinate
Mar 3, 2013
Dr. Zeda Amaya
Specializes in Pediatrics
Risk is ever-present: As protective as we parents try to be, certain risks are ever-present. Since we don't have the proverbial crystal ball to determine all risks, prevention is best. Who knows if our children will inadvertently be exposed to infected blood products that can transmit the hep b virus? The vaccine sets up the body's defense before infection occurs.Thankfully the vaccine is proven safe and effective!
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Pediatrics 35 years experience
Hep B vaccine was...: ...Originally tested in countries where most people were infected at birth, then went on to infect their own children at their birth, and died young of liver cancer. The vaccine worked extremely well and safely. Once we knew this, there seemed to be no reason to wait longer.
Dr. Cornelia Franz
Specializes in Pediatrics
He doesn't: While hepatitis is a serious disease, the hepatitis vaccine, in my opinion, is not necessary in children with no risk factors. If mom had prenatal care and is hepatitis negative, and the baby will not be in a high risk environment, I do not see the need to give it right away. It can be done later if necessary. You may want to do more research on your own.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 33 years experience
At risk from birth: A child is at risk of catching hepatitis b, from the day he is born. So, the vaccine is usually started on that day. Hepatitis b virus is in blood and bodily fluids, and is very contagious. Almost all people who are carriers of hepatitis b "look normal", so one cannot tell who is carrying the virus, among the general population.

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No: Wild virus chicken pox does carry a risk of complications. In young children, the risk is lower than it is in teens and adults; however, the complications include the potential for life-threatening conditions. Never expose your child purposely to chicken pox. The vaccination is much safer.
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Do thumb-sucking and pacifiers ruin children's teeth and bites?

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Yes: There is truly a lot of variables in this question - i.e. How much does the child use a pacy of suck their thumb per day, but for the most part these habits are devastating to teeth. Not only do I see this every day in my office, but I have a child who sucks her thumb and see the devastation to her teeth every day.
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