- Open Access
Seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigenemia and its effects on hematological parameters in pregnant women in Osogbo, Nigeria
© Kolawole et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012
Received: 22 November 2011
Accepted: 17 December 2012
Published: 27 December 2012
The transmission of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is parenteral, sexual and perinatal. Prevention of vertical transmission of HBV is extremely important because HBV infection in early life usually results in a chronic carrier State.
A descriptive seroepidemiological study of hepatitis B virus and its effects on hematological parameters was investigated in pregnant women attending antenatal clinic of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Nigeria. 200 venous samples were subjected to full blood count and its sera were subjected to enzyme–linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of surface antigen of hepatitis B virus.
Prevalence rate of 16.5% was obtained for hepatitis B surface antigen in pregnant women. The highest HBsAg prevalence rate recorded was 23.3% for pregnant women between aged 30–34 years while the lowest recorded was zero percent for those aged greater than 40 years. RBC, WBC, neutrophil, hemoglobin lymphocyte and platelet counts have no significant effects on HBsAg positivity of pregnant women (p = 0.801). There was no significant difference in HBsAg positivity in relation to maternal age, gravidity, gestational age, family type, level of education and occupation (p = 0.073). Among the potential risk factors, there was significant difference in HBsAg positivity in the pregnant women in relation to their history of HBV vaccination (p = 0.039).
We advocate universal free screening of pregnant women as the endemicity of HBV infections is thus being propagated.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a double-stranded DNA virus belonging to Hepadnaviridae family. The incubation period is six weeks to six months . Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by hepatitis B virus. It is a major global health problem and the most serious type of viral hepatitis. It can cause chronic liver disease and put people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer . The primary method of transmission reflects the prevalence of chronic HBV infection in a given area. In low prevalence areas such as the continental United States and Western Europe, where less than 2% of the population is chronically infected, injection drug abuse and unprotected sex are the primary methods, although other factors may be important .
Transmission of hepatitis B virus results from exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing blood. Possible forms of transmission include (but are not limited to) unprotected sexual contact, blood transfusions, re-use of contaminated needles and syringes, and vertical transmission from mother to child during childbirth .
In countries where HBV is highly endemic (hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) prevalence rate of 8% or higher), most infections occur during infancy and early childhood. Infection occurs commonly in all age groups, although the high rate of chronic infection is primarily maintained by transmission during infancy and early childhood. Where endemicity is low (HBsAg prevalence rate of below 2%), infections occur in young adults, especially those belonging to known risk groups .
In areas with high HBV endemicity, perinatal is the main route of transmission. Perinatal transmission is common, especially when HBV infected mothers are also HBeAg positive . HBeAg – positive mothers are more than 70% while from HBsAg – positive, HBeAg negative mothers, it is less than 10% . Edmund and colleagues supported this report that without intervention the risk of transmission from an HBeAg seropositive mother is 70-90% compare with the risk of about 10% from an HBeAg negative mother . Nigeria is highly endemic and the most common circumstance that lead to HBV infection in this population have not been fully elucidated. It has been reported that the exposure rate to HBV (frequency of HBeAg and anti-HBs) ranged from 59% in children aged under 5 years to 72.5% in adults aged over 30 years, while the frequency of HBsAg alone was 40 and 10% respectively . In most epidemiological studies age has always proved to be the most important factor. The age of acquiring infection is the major determinant of the incidence and prevalence rates .
Several vaccines has been developed for the prevention of hepatitis B virus infection. These rely on the use of one of the viral envelope proteins (hepatitis B surface antigen or HBsAg). The vaccine was originally prepared from plasma obtained from patients who had long-standing hepatitis B virus infection. However, currently these are more often made using recombinant DNA technology, though plasma-derive vaccines continue to be used; the two types of vaccines are equally effective and safe . Following vaccination, hepatitis B surface antigen may be detected in serum for several days; this is known as vaccine antigenemia . Vaccine is generally administered in a two, three or four dose schedules; and can be received by infants to adults. It provides protection for 85-90% of individuals and lasts for 23 years .
Various studies have shown that hematological parameters in pregnancy revealed variation from non-pregnant women [13–15]. Neutrophilia is a feature of pregnancy, while neutropenia is common among non-pregnant Africans . Apart from the hematological changes brought about by hepatitis B infection in the mothers, both perinatal and maternal deaths are substantially increased in hepatitis B infection more especially in under priviledged populations and developing countries . There appears to be a high incidence of low birth weight among infants born to mothers with acute infection during pregnancy . About half of the babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B virus infection during pregnancy will show hepatitis B antigen in their blood and a proportion of them will develop hepatic lesions .
A yearly trend of HBsAg seropositivity in North-western Nigeria of 14.6% in 2004, 10.1% in 2005, 10.7% in 2006 and 11.4% in 2010 have been reported in blood donors . A seroprevalence of 2.4% in the North-eastern, 2.19%, 51.9% and 4.3% in the South-western and South-southern Nigeria have been reported [20–23]. Recent studies in this locality in blood donors reported 13.5% HBsAg seropositivity . However, to the best of our knowledge, studies on hepatitis B surface antigenemia in pregnant women have not been reported in this locality. Therefore, this study was aimed at finding the seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigenemia and its effects on hematological parameters in pregnant women attending antenatal clinic of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Nigeria.
Materials and methods
The research was carried out in Osogbo City. Osogbo is the capital of Osun state and is centrally situated in Osun State, Nigeria. Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital was chosen as Sample Collection Centre.
This study was carried out between December, 2010 and March, 2011.
The Fisher’s formula was employed which gives a total of 200 .
Subject and samples
Two hundred pregnant women attending antenatal Clinic of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo in the South-western Nigeria were enrolled into this study after seeking their verbal consent. Ethical consideration approval with a reference number LTH/EC/2010/04/0118 was obtained from the hospital ethical review board. Serum samples were collected from pregnant women by venepuncture and stored frozen in aliquots at - 20°C until ready for use.
Subjects were verbally informed of the study and a questionnaire was administered to obtain socio-demographic information, such as maternal age, gestational age, gravidity, occupation, family type and level of education. Other information on risk factors to possible modes of transmission of HBV, such as history of previous blood transfusions, history of abortions, history of tattooing/tribal marks and history of HBV vaccination were obtained.
Hematological parameters considered in this study were; White blood cells, Red blood cells, Lymphocyte, Neutrophil, Hemoglobin and platelets. The process of complete blood count was determined by the use of an automated analyzer (Roche Sysmex Xe-2100).
HBsAg was detected using third-generation enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit (Biotech HBsAg device) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. A repeat of ELISA test was performed on each positive HBsAg sample, in order to eliminate false positivity after carrying out a neutralization test for each positive test sample detected. Results were finally regarded as positive after a repeated positive ELISA test.
Statistical software JMP version 9 (Generalized linear model) was used for all variables. Comparison were assessed using chi-square and t-test. A p-value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant in all statistical comparison.
Prevalence of HBsAg in relation with the age of pregnant women
Relationship between gravidity and hepatitis B virus transmission
Relationship between gestational age and hepatitis B virus transmission
Relationship between socio-demographic characteristics of pregnant women with hepatitis B virus transmission
P-value = 0.0913
X2 = 8.006 df = 4
P-value = 0.493
X 2 = 0.4707 df = 1
P-value = 0.2956
X 2 = 2.4374 df = 2
Relationship of hematological indices of the pregnant women with hepatitis B virus transmission
HBsAg ± SEM
10.08 ± 1.00
10.03 ± 1.28
Red blood cell (K/μι)
3.70 ± 0.47
3.72 ± 0.61
White blood cell (K/μι)
6.70 ± 1.63
6.78 ± 1.78
182.52 ± 53.41
188.41 ± 55.49
4.31 ± 1.40
1.86 ± 0.50
1.78 ± 1.52
Of those (71) with tattooing and tribal marks, 12.7% were HBsAg positive while there was none positive to HBsAg with history of previous blood transfusion. 5.4% were positive to HBsAg in those with history of abortion while 37.5% of those with history of HBV vaccination were positive to HBsAg in the pregnant women (p = 0.039).
Screening asymptomatic people is an important instrument in disease detection, prompt diagnosis and intervention, particularly at an early stage of the disease. This may improve the health outcome as well as better understanding of the transmission pattern of the disease . In Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, HBV infection is endemic and thought to be the main etiological factor in over 75% of the chronic liver disease . The results from this present study in Osogbo, Nigeria, revealed a seroprevalence rates of 16.5%, this lies within the established standard that West African countries have moderate to high hepatitis B endemicity as reported elsewhere [27, 28]. High prevalence of 12% was reported among a similar study population in Taiwan and 10% in Hong Kong . In Ilorin, prevalence rate of 5.7% was reported in mothers and 10% in their preschool age children . In Benin city, a 2.19% maternal HBsAg seroprevalence have been reported .
The results indicated that the prevalence was high among 30–34 age-groups than others (Table 1). This correlates with the peak age of highest sexual activity in the society, hence supporting the role of sexual intercourse in the transmission of hepatitis B virus. The result also agrees with the report of Aganga  that in populations in which hepatitis B virus is relatively common; the majority of infections and peak prevalence of HBsAg as well as of specific antibody were in the age –group 25–29 and 30–34 years. There was no significant difference between age-groups as they relate to HBsAg prevalence (p = 0.171), therefore establishing the fact that HBV is common in all age-groups of life. However, the findings disagrees with the work of  in the same locality who reported highest HBsAg seroprevalence in blood donors of ages above 58 years.
The high prevalence of HBsAg in multigravids (20.7%) compared to primgravid (11.2%) might possibly be due to longer period of marriage and multiple deliveries in the locality (Table 2). This is in consonance with the report of Aganga  that women with longer period of marriage might have greater sexual activities and multiple deliveries, thereby exposing them to risk of HBV infection. There is a corresponding increase in HBsAg with an increase in the gestational age (Table 3). This might possibly be explained from the fact that pregnancy progresses with an attendant decrease in immunity of the expectant mother  a reason that might have given more chances to the virus to have undergone multiplication, a process that could result in the production of more HBsAg in the mother’s blood. There was no statistical significance of HBsAg positivity with gestatational age (p = 0.881). The high prevalence indicated among merchant women and those with tertiary education (Table 4), might possibly be explained by their high level of exposure and interaction with opposite sex. This could lead to having heterosexual partner, and this is one of the most important mode of transmission of HBV .
Potential risk factors and prevalence of HBsAg among the pregnant women
Tattooing/tribal marks (%)
History of previous blood transfusion (%)
History of abortion (%)
History of HBV vaccination (%)
No risk factor (%)
Out of the six hematological indices analyzed in this study, lymphocytes concentration were increased when compared with negative HBsAg pregnant women, though not statistically significant (p = 0.51). This could possibly be explained from the fact that the lymphocyte, which is one of the indices of white blood cells in combating diseases, is raised in the presence of viral infections . However, this could be adduced to immunosuppressive status of women in pregnancy. The significant increased could also be aggravated by a dual infections in the pregnant women. HIV-HBV co-infected Nigerians have been reported to have lower CD4+ T-cell counts compared to HIV mono-infected individuals . Several studies on HBV mono-infection support the idea that HBV leads to an overall increase in T-cell activation [39, 40].
The major strength of this study is that to the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of seroprevalence of HBsAg and its effect on hematological indices of pregnant women in Osogbo and in the South-western part of Nigeria, a country known with high HBV endemicity. A limitation of this study is that we do not have data on opportunistic infections in the pregnant women prior to study entry.
In summary, in order to interrupt the cycle of transmission of HBV in Nigeria through perinatal route, these strategies would be recommended; free regular blood screening, public education, behavioural modification, passive immunoprophylaxis and active immunization.
It is clear from this study that Nigeria is in the region with high prevalence of HBV. There are many unvaccinated women in childbearing age who are at risk of HBV infection. It is important to note that infection by HBV early in life underscores the potential of adding to the burden of viral hepatitis and its attending complication of hepatocellular carcinoma later in life.
We wish to appreciate the management of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital for their approval to carry out the study.
- CDC: Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. MMWR Recomm Rep 2002,51(RR-6):1-78.Google Scholar
- WHO: Advanced immunization management. Hepatitis. Fact sheet No. 2005.Google Scholar
- Redd HT, Baunbach H, Kohn W: Patient to patient transmission of hepatitis B virus associated with oral Surgery. J infect Dis 2007,195(9):1311-4. 10.1086/513435PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- CDC: Hepatitis transmitted by a human bite. Morb. Mort. Wkly Rep; 1974:23-24.Google Scholar
- ACIP: Protection against viral hepatitis: recommendation of the immunization practices advisory committee. Morb Mort Wkly Rep 1990.,39(RR-2):Google Scholar
- Nacos B, Dao B, Dahourou M, et al.: HBs antigen carrier state in pregnant women in Bobo Dioulasso (Burkinafaso). Dakar Med 2000,42(2):188-190.Google Scholar
- Edmund WJ, Medley GF, Nokes DJ, O’Callaghan CJ, Whittle HC, Hall AJ: Epidemiological patterns of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in highly endemic areas. Epidemiol Infect 1996, 313-325.Google Scholar
- Fakunle YM, Abdulraham MB, Whittel HC: Hepatitis B virus infection in children and adults in northern Nigeria: a preliminary survey. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 1981,75(5):625-629.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Christy NE, Dennis EA, Gilbert ON, et al.: The seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen and human immunodeficiency virus among pregnant women in Anambra State, Nigeria. Shtraz E-medical J 2004,5(2):1-25.Google Scholar
- Zuckerman JN: Vaccination against hepatitis A and B: development deployment and elusion. Curr Opin Infect Dis 2006,19(5):456-9. 10.1097/01.qco.0000244051.23511.09PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Martin-Ancel A, Casas ML, Bonet B: Implication of Post vaccination hepatitis B surface antigenemia in the management of exposure to body fluids. Infect control Hosp Epidemiol 2004,25(7):611-3. 10.1086/502449PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- MCS: Mayo Clinic Staff. Hepatitis B prevention. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitisB/DS
- Onwukeme KE, Uguru VE: Haematological values in pregnancy in Jos. West Afr J Med 1990, 9: 70-75.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Osoagbaka OU, Haruna RH, Anokwuru OC: Observation on some hematological parameters of Nigerian women during pregnancy. J Med Invest Pract 2000, 1: 45-48.Google Scholar
- Kei N: Pregnancy and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. J Immune Based Therapies Vaccines 2004,2(4):45-57.Google Scholar
- Arinola OG, Obisesan K, Salimonu LS, Onifade R, Afolabi K: Leucocyte phagocytosis and circulation immune complexes in mothers after child birth. West Afr J Med 2004, 23: 256-9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Pavel A, Tirsia E, Maior E, Cristea A: Detrimental effects of hepatitis B virus infection on the development of product of conception. Virologie 1983, 34: 34-40.Google Scholar
- Tse KY, Lo LF, Lao T: The Impact of maternal HBsAg carrier status on pregnancy outcomes: A case–control study. J Hepatol 2005, 43: 371-75.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Nwokedi E, Odimayo MS, Emokpae AM, Yahaya IA, Sadiq MN, Okwori EE: Seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen among patients attending Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. Kano Niger J Med 2010,19(4):423-6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Olokoba AB, Salawu FK, Danburam A, Desalu OO, Olokoba LB, Wahab KW, Badung LH, Tidi SK, Midala J, Aderibigbe S, Abdulrahman MB, Babalola OM, Abdukkarim A: Viral hepatitides in voluntary blood donors in Yola, Nigeria. Euro J Sci Res 2009,31(3):329-334.Google Scholar
- Onakewhor JUE, Offor E, Okonofua FE: Maternal and neonatal seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in Benin city, Nigeria. J Obs Gynaecol 2001,21(6):583-586. 10.1080/01443610120085528View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Iwalokun BA, Hodonu SO, Olaleye BM, Olabisi OA: Seroprevalence and biochemical features of hepatitis B surface antigenemia in patients with HIV-1 infection in Lagos. Afri J Med Med Sci 2006,35(3):337-43.Google Scholar
- Ajayi AO, Komolafe AO, Ajumobi K: Seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigenemia among health care workers in a Nigerian tertiary health institution. Niger J Clin Pract 2007,10(4):287-9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dawaki SS, Kawo AH: Seroprevalence of hepatitis B Surface antigen among pregnant women. Nig J Microbiol 2006,20(1):705-709.Google Scholar
- Araoye MO: Sample size determination. Research methodology with statistics for health and social sciences. 2003, 118-121.Google Scholar
- Isselbacher KJ, Wands JR, et al.: Neoplasms of the liver. In Harrison’s Principle of Internal Medicine (12th Edition). Edited by: Wilson JD, Braunwald E, Isselbacher K. New York, USA: McGraw-Hill; 1991:1350-1352.Google Scholar
- Miren B, Asun S, Mario S, Enrigue G, Iboy DO, Ramon C: Seroprevalence of hepatitis B and C and human immunodeficiency type 1 virus in a rural population from the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 1999, 93: 250-252. 10.1016/S0035-9203(99)90010-XView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Awosere KE, Arinola OG, Uche LN: Hepatitis B virus seroprevalence among pregnant women. J Med Lab Sc 1999,3(2):23-27.Google Scholar
- Kong KL, Cho Y, Lee SS: The declining HBsAg carriage rate in pregnant women in Hong Kong. Epidemiol Infect 1997, 199: 281-283.Google Scholar
- Agbede OO, Iseniyi JO, Kolawole OM, Ojuawo A: Risk factors and Seroprevalence of hepatits B surface antigenemia in mothers and their pre-school age children in Ilorin, Nigeria. Future Med Therapy 2007,4(1):67-72.Google Scholar
- Aganga WOM, Akanmu AS, Akinsete A, Njoku OS: Prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen among women of childbearing age. Afr J Rep 1999,3(1):45-50. 10.2307/3583228Google Scholar
- Opaleye OO, Zakariyahu TO, Tijani BA, Bakarey AS: HBV, HCV co-infection among blood donors in Nigeria. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2010, 53: 182-3. 10.4103/0377-4929.59229PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Soxhami RL, Moxhan J: Textbook of Medicine (1st Ed). Churchill Livingstone city, United Kingdom: Longman Group Publishers; 1991:634-635.Google Scholar
- Duncan ME, Tibaus G, Pelger A: Prevalence and significance of sexually transmitted diseases among women. Ethiop J Health Dev 1995, 9: 31-40.Google Scholar
- Maddawa V, Burgress C, Drucker E: Epidemiology of Chronic Hepatitis C infection in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet Infect 2002, 2: 293-302. 10.1016/S1473-3099(02)00264-5View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Alter HJ, Blumberg BS: Further studies on a new human isoprecipitin system (Australia antigen). Blood 1966,27(3):297-309.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Shale MJ: The implications of anti-tumour necrosis factor therapy for viral infection in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Br Med Bull 2009,92(1):61-77. 10.1093/bmb/ldp036PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Idoko J, Meloni S, Muazu M, Nimzing L, Badung B, Hawkins C, Sankale J, Ekong E, Murphy R, Kanki P, Thio CL: Impact of hepatitis B virus infection on HIV response to antiretroviral therapy in Nigeria. Clin Infect Dis 2009,49(8):1268-1273. 10.1086/605675PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Nakamura K, Yuh K, Sugyo S, Shijo H, Kimura N, Okumura M: Apoptosis observed in peripheral T lymphocytes from patients with chronic hepatitis B. Gastroenterology 1996, 111: 156-164. 10.1053/gast.1996.v111.pm8698194PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Raptopoulou-Gigi M, Orphanou-Koumerkeridou H, Lagra F: Possible mechanisms underlying peripheral lymphocyte activation in chronic liver disease and asymptomatic HBsAg carriers. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 1989, 17: 145-148.Google Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.