AIM To investigate whether hepatitis B vaccination has increased the number of cases of unexplained neonatal fever.
METHOD The files of all infants born from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 1992, in whom a diagnosis of “injected antibiotic” or “disease of temperature regulation” was recorded, were reviewed. Those who had unexplained fever of 38°C or higher during the first three days of life were divided into two groups: infants who did not receive the hepatitis B vaccine (1991) and infants who did (1992).
RESULTS In 1992 the incidence of unexplained fever in hepatitis B vaccinated neonates was significantly higher than in the 1991 group of pre-vaccination neonates (35 out of 5819 (0.6%) vs 14 out of 5010 neonates (0.28%) respectively, p=0.013).
CONCLUSIONS The increase in the number of cases of unexplained neonatal fever seems to be associated with the introduction of routine hepatitis B vaccination on the first day of life. The possibility that an excess number of neonates will undergo unnecessary procedures and treatment to diagnose unexplained fever justifies planning a controlled study to determine whether these preliminary findings point to a significant problem.
- hepatitis B vaccine
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