Yes, the most common way people get hepatitis B is through birth. Hepatitis B does not spread through breast milk.

There are ways to stop hepatitis B from spreading from mother to child. Most babies born in Australia have a hepatitis B vaccine as soon as they are born. We call this the birth dose. If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, your baby should have an extra injection within 12 hours of birth. This injection has something called hepatitis B immunoglobulin. These are antibodies that help the body fight the virus. They'll also get three more hepatitis B vaccines over the next 6 months like other babies. Together this works well to protect the baby against the virus. Your baby will have a blood test when they are about nine to 12 months old. This test checks for infection and immunity.

Some women have a high level of the virus in their body while they are pregnant. This means they are more likely to pass it on to their baby.  If you have a high level of hepatitis B your doctor can give you an antiviral medicine. You'll take this during the third trimester and up to a few weeks after birth. This will make it less likely that you pass the virus onto your baby. Talk to your doctor about this. They may suggest you keep taking the medicine, stop, or swap to another medicine.  

Find out more about hepatitis B vaccination

Find out more about treatment for hepatitis B


Infants born to mothers who are hepatitis B surface antigen–positive are recommended to receive both hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG, Australian Immunistaion Handbook, Department of Health and Aged Care

Managing hepatitis B virus in pregnancy and children, B Positive, ASHM

Updated 6 March 2023