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Immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccine in preterm infants
  1. Orna Blondheim,
  2. David Bader,
  3. Martha Abend,
  4. Marina Peniakov,
  5. Danny Reich,
  6. I Potesman,
  7. Rachel Handsher,
  8. Ifat Gidoni,
  9. Nehama Linder
  1. Departments of Neonatology, Ha’ Emek, Bnei Zion and Chaim Sheba (Tel Hashomer) Medical Centers, Technion Institute of Technology, The B. Rappaport School of Medicine, Haifa, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  1. Dr Orna Blondheim, Department of Neonatology, Haemek Medical Center, Afula, Israel. Email: blond{at}


AIM To assess the immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccine in preterm and term infants, given in a sequence of three doses beginning soon after birth.

METHOD The immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccine was assessed in 176 preterm infants (< 35 weeks of gestation), immunised soon after birth, and compared with that in 46 term infants. Titres of hepatitis B antibodies were determined one to two months after the third vaccine. The significance of the differences between the term and preterm groups was determined using Student’st test.

RESULTS A similar proportion of infants in both preterm and term groups attained protective titres of hepatitis B antibodies (88.7% vs 93.4%, respectively; p=NS). However, the term infants had a higher geometric mean titre of antibodies after the third vaccine than did the preterm infants (701.2 (745.0) vs 469.1 (486.2) mU/ml, respectively; p<0.03).

CONCLUSION Hepatitis B vaccine is effective in most preterm infants when given soon after birth. It may be advisable to determine the immune response at 12–24 months of age to booster the non-responders.

  • hepatitis B vaccine
  • immune response

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