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Hepatitis B in Children: Care Instructions


Hepatitis B is a virus that can infect the liver. It can be passed from mother to baby during childbirth. If you have the virus, your baby can be given shots to help prevent getting it.

After your child is infected, it may be months before you see symptoms. Or symptoms may be so mild that you don't notice them. But your child can infect other people both before and after symptoms start.

The virus can cause fatigue, a fever, and nausea. Your child may vomit and have light-coloured stools and dark urine. Your child's skin and eyes may look yellow. This is called jaundice.

Most people get better in several weeks, but it can take several months. Children are more likely than adults to have the virus stay in their bodies. If the virus stays in your child's body for a long time, it can cause serious liver disease. After your child has had the virus, they will not get it again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Limit activity to match your child's energy.
  • Make sure that the doctor knows all the medicines your child takes. Some medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can make liver problems worse. Do not give your child any new medicines unless the doctor says it is okay.
  • If your doctor prescribes antiviral medicine for your child, give it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with their medicine.
  • If your child has nausea or vomiting, try smaller meals more often.
  • Give plenty of fluids.
  • If your child has itchy skin, be sure your child keeps cool, stays out of the sun, and wears cotton clothes. Talk to your child's doctor about medicines that can be used for itchy skin. Read and follow the instructions on the label.


  • Tell the people who live with your child about the illness right away. Health Canada recommends that people in close contact with an infected child get the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Do not let your child donate blood, blood products, or organs.
  • Do not let your child share items that may have your child's blood on them. These include razors, toothbrushes, towels, and nail files.
  • Tell your child to use lotions or ointments to prevent chapped or broken skin, which can expose others to blood.
  • Tell your child's doctor and dentist about your child's illness. And tell anyone else who may come in contact with your child's blood.
  • If your child gets blood on clothing or other fabrics, clean them well.
  • Use care when you throw away items that have your child's blood on them, such as tissues. Wear gloves. Place the items in sealed plastic bags before you throw them away.
  • Dilute household bleach according to the directions on the label to make a bleach solution. Use this liquid to clean surfaces that have your child's blood or any other body fluid on them. For instance, use it to clean toilet seats, counters, and floors.
  • If your child has long-term hepatitis B, be sure to explain that the virus can still be spread to others. This can happen even if your child has no symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse belly pain.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.
  • Your child is dizzy or light-headed, or feels about to faint.
  • Your child has symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than normal.
  • Your child cannot keep down medicine or fluids.
  • Your child has new or more blood in stools.
  • Your child has new or worse vomiting or diarrhea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.