Neonatal HBV Vaccine Reduces Liver Disease in Young Adults

Hepatitis B vaccination reduces incidence of primary liver cancer by 84% later in life, study finds.

Hepatitis B vaccination reduces incidence of primary liver cancer by 84% later in life, study finds.

Neonatal hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination was found to significantly reduce the risk of developing liver diseases in young adults, according to a recent study.

In a study published recently in PLOS Medicine, researchers from China reported outcomes from a randomized controlled trial of neonatal HBV vaccination conducted between 1983 and 1990 in a rural area of China with a high incidence of HBV-related liver diseases, including primary liver cancer.

The study included 41 rural towns with a total of 77,658 newborns over the duration of the study period. The subjects were randomized into groups that either received HBV vaccination or no vaccination at all. Two-thirds of the control group participants received a catch-up vaccination between the ages of 10 and 14 years.

Examining data on new liver disease cases over a period of 30 years from a population-based tumor registry, the researchers estimated the neonatal vaccine reduced the incidence of liver cancer by 84%. Additionally, the vaccine reduced death from liver diseases by 70%, and reduced incidence of infant fulminant hepatitis by 69%.

Survey data collected between 1996 and 2000 and between 2008 and 2012 concluded the efficacy of the catch-up vaccination on HBV prevalence in early adulthood was 21%, compared with 72% in those who received the neonatal vaccination.

The researchers note, however, that the accuracy of the findings are limited due to the small number of cases of primary liver cancer and other liver diseases observed during the 30-year follow up, the length of the follow-up, and the availability of incomplete data on seroprevalence.

"Neonatal HBV vaccination significantly decreased HBsAg seroprevalence in childhood through young adulthood and subsequently reduced the risk of PLC and other liver diseases in young adults,” the authors wrote. "Our results also suggest that an adolescence booster should be considered in people who were born to HBsAg-positive mothers and completed HBV neonatal vaccination series."