With motherhood comes many unpleasant responsibilities and making sure
your child is up to date with their immunization schedule is one of them. In the past,
moms were told they could get the vaccine before leaving the hospital, or wait until baby's first well visit before administering
that first dose, but new recommendations from the American Academy of
Pediatrics say that medically stable newborns weighing 2,000 grams (4.4 pounds or 70.5 ounces) or more
should receive their first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine within the first 24
hours of life.
That's right; you now have less than 24 hours to throw on a pair
of big-girl panties, get your postpartum hormonal tears in check and make the decision with your partner on whether to get the vaccine right away, or wait until the first well visit, like you probably already expected to do. And if you decide to wait, you can probably expect some side-eye and an explanation that the guidelines now say you shouldn't wait.
Dr. Karen Puopolo,
one of the authors, urges families to follow these new
guidelines; maintaining that vaccinating infants less than four weeks
old against hepatitis B has been a standard recommendation "for years and
the recommendation was at 24 hours or on discharge from the birth hospital,
which meant some infants did not get the vaccination until they were 2 or 3
days old," she adds. "Now we are saying we really think you should
get it before you are 24 hours old," as long as baby is born healthy and weighs more than 2,000 grams.
Puopolo warns parents
that, without proper treatment, a child exposed to perinatal hepatitis B
infection is at a greater risk of facing severe (often deadly) diseases, such
as cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). "All of that can be prevented
with timely administration of the hepatitis B vaccine," she says.
factors may come into play, prompting some families to administer dosage sooner
(such as a mother diagnosed with hepatitis B before pregnancy), both the AAP and the Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
believe that the safest thing to do is vaccinate your child before 24 hours of
us the advantage of dealing with cases where the mother's hepatitis B status is
not known at birth," Puopolo added. "It also accounts for cases in
which the mother has tested negative in error, or has acquired the virus after
The underlying message here is that parents should discuss immunizations before the baby is born so that they don't have to make a snap decision under stress.
And if you're worried about your baby being in pain, that shouldn't really be a concern. The AAP recommends breastfeeding while your baby gets vaccinated because nursing actually blocks pain signals sent by the brain, so it can actually reduce your baby's discomfort. In fact, researchers have previously found that babies who nursed while being vaccinated cried 38 seconds less than babies who weren't being breastfed.
Imagine: You’re in the waiting room of your child’s pediatrician’s office, mentally compiling a list of things to bring up during the exam. Of course, you should mention that recurring rash or those asthma attacks, but what about how much your child seems to dislike her teacher this year? Or those vitamins that you started giving her to help ward off colds? Here are eight surprising must-discuss topics that most parents aren't asking.