Telbivudine Prevents Vertical Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus From Women With High Viral Loads: A Prospective Long-Term Study
Background & Aims: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a leading cause of liver diseases. We investigated the efficacy and safety of telbivudine in preventing transmission of HBV from hepatitis B e antigen-positive pregnant women with high viral loads to their infants in an open-label study. Methods: We performed a prospective study of 450 hepatitis B e antigen-positive pregnant women with HBV DNA levels greater than 106 IU/mL; 279 women received telbivudine (600 mg/d) during weeks 24 to 32 of gestation, and 171 women who were unwilling to take antiviral drugs participated as controls. All newborns were vaccinated with a recombinant HBV vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin, according to a standard immunoprophylaxis procedure. Mother-to-child transmission of HBV was determined by detection of hepatitis B surface antigen and HBV DNA in the infant 6 months after birth. Results: None of the infants whose mothers were given telbivudine tested positive for of hepatitis B surface antigen at 6 months, compared with 14.7% of infants in the control group (P= 5.317× 10-8). Levels of HBV DNA also decreased among women given telbivudine; 40 of 172 (23.2%) women given telbivudine had undetectable HBV DNA levels before delivery, compared with none of the controls. A significantly higher proportion of women given telbivudine had undetectable levels of HBV DNA in cord blood (99.1%) than controls (61.5%; P= 1.195× 10-22). No severe adverse events or complications were observed in women or infants. Conclusions: Telbivudine significantly reduces vertical transmission of HBV from pregnant women to their infants; it is safe and well tolerated by women and infants. Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry Health Care Providers ID: 26592; Government number: Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) 30830090, 30972598; and Third Military Medical University Key Project for Clinical Research: 2012XLC05). © 2015 AGA Institute.