Series on Special-Needs: Hepatitis B

Among the children with special needs waiting to be adopted, children with Hepatitis B face many challenges.  Hepatitis B is a blood-borne infection that can be spread to a child from his or her birthmother.

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This disease can cause damage to the liver and can affect the body’s immune response.  Although a serious infection, Hepatitis B is “vaccine-preventable” and treatable. Currently in the U.S. the two approved treatment options for children with chronic hepatitis B are: (1) Intron A (interferon alpha) and (2) Epivir-HBV (lamivudine).

Understandably, prospective adoptive parents often have reservations about adopting a child who is infected with Hepatitis B and may have questions about how this infection will affect their lives as well as the life of their child.   Symptoms for chronic Hepatitis B which include jaundice, fever, liver enlargement, and abdominal pain but the good news with this infection is that due to developing immune systems, many babies and children do not ever experience these symptoms.

The first step an adoptive parent can take is to make sure that everyone in the family is already vaccinated for the virus and screened.  An adopted child who is infected should be regularly seen by a doctor and treatment options should be thoroughly explained.  Hepatitis B is common in areas of certain countries but it is treatable. Adoptive parents should always contact a family physician with any concerns or medical questions—follow-up is key.

The Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin also provides informational and support services for parents who adopt children with Hepatitis B.  We are honored to work with parents who adoptchildren with special needs and recognize that, although it is a big undertaking, these children are receiving the love and care they deserve.

 

Informational links:

Hepatitis B 

Treatment Options

What You Need to Know about Hepatitis B

Spence-Chapin Modern Family Center