This sheet is about having hepatitis A and the hepatitis A vaccine in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. This information should not take the place of medical care and advice from your healthcare provider.
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a virus that spreads very easily and infects the liver. Hepatitis A is the most common cause of jaundice in people who are pregnant. For more information on hepatitis A, please see the MotherToBaby fact sheet at: https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/hepatitis-a/.
What is the hepatitis A vaccine?
The hepatitis A vaccine contains an inactivated (not live) hepatitis A virus. The vaccine causes a person to develop antibodies to the virus and protects them against hepatitis A infection in the future. The vaccine does not cause hepatitis A. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at 1 year of age, and for individuals, including those who are pregnant, that are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common. It has also been recommended for some individuals working in professions with a high chance of exposure to the virus, and people who have other risk factors such as clotting disorders, chronic liver disease, or those who use certain drugs.
How can I lower the chance of getting hepatitis A?
The hepatitis A vaccine provides the best protection against the virus. The vaccine is thought to be effective for up to 20 years. A blood test is available to find out if a person has hepatitis A antibodies. If they do not, they can talk with their healthcare provider about their risk factors for hepatitis A and decide if vaccination is right for them. In addition, good hygiene can lower the chance of infection. This includes washing hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food. Boiling contaminated food or water for one minute can kill the virus.
Does receiving the hepatitis A vaccine make it harder to become pregnant?
It is not known if receiving the hepatitis A vaccine can make it harder to get pregnant.
Does receiving the hepatitis A vaccination increase the chance for miscarriage?
Miscarriage is common and can occur in any pregnancy for many different reasons. Receiving the hepatitis A vaccination is not expected to increase the chance of miscarriage.
Would receiving the hepatitis A vaccine in pregnancy increase the chance of birth defects?
Inactivated vaccines, like the hepatitis A vaccine are not thought to pose a risk to a developing baby (fetus).
Would getting the hepatitis A vaccine during pregnancy increase the chance of other pregnancy related problems?
One study suggested a possible increased chance for babies to be small for gestational age. Other studies have suggested that the hepatitis A vaccine would not cause pregnancy-related problems, such as preterm delivery (birth before week 37) or low birth weight (weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces [2500 grams] at birth).
Does having/getting Hepatitis A vaccine in pregnancy affect future behavior or learning for the child?
Several studies have not found negative effects on child development following exposure to the hepatitis A vaccine in pregnancy.
Breastfeeding if I get the hepatitis A vaccine:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that getting the hepatitis A vaccine is not a reason to stop breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also does not affect how well the vaccine works. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about all of your breastfeeding questions.
If a male receives the hepatitis A vaccine, can it make it harder to get a partner pregnant or increase the chance of birth defects?
Studies have not been done to see if the hepatitis A vaccine could affect male fertility or increase the chance of birth defects In general, exposures that fathers or sperm donors have are unlikely to increase the risk to a pregnancy. For more information, please see the MotherToBaby fact sheet Paternal Exposures at https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/paternal-exposures-pregnancy/.
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OTIS/MotherToBaby encourages inclusive and person-centered language. While our name still contains a reference to mothers, we are updating our resources with more inclusive terms. Use of the term mother or maternal refers to a person who is pregnant. Use of the term father or paternal refers to a person who contributes sperm.