This Kiwi Families article on hepatitis B in children provides clear information on different types of hepatitis, how they are spread and how they can affect your child.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver – an inflammation that in turn causes damage to the liver cells. There are three viruses involved with hepatitis – hepatitis A, B and C.

Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world and is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The liver is a vital body organ which helps detoxify and rid the body of waste, stores energy, makes bile for food digestion and fights germs. Hepatitis B can either be acute (short term) or chronic (long term).

Hepatitis B can also lodge in the body of some people causing them to become carriers – meaning they can pass the virus onto other people through blood borne/ sexual contact. Often people are unaware they are carriers because they have no symptoms of the disease.

The incubation period (the time from when someone is infected to when symptoms may appear) is 2-6 months.

  • Hepatitis A – also known as infectious hepatitis and is caused by poor hygiene practices. The virus lives in the bowel motions of an infected person – and can be found in contaminated water, milk, foods and shellfish
  • Hepatitis B – 90% of babies who contract this illness do so because their mothers are infected with the virus. Infection usually occurs during delivery, but HBV is also carried in breast milk. It is also believed that many previous infections of hepatitis B in New Zealand happened from direct playground contact with virus infection through open cuts and sores
  • Hepatitis C – spread through sexual contact with an infected person and also through contaminated blood, sharing needles, tattooing or body piercing with contaminated instruments (all blood in New Zealand is now screened for the disease)

The incidence of hepatitis B is generally considered high in New Zealand and is why the hepatitis B vaccine has become part of the childhood schedule (see ‘Immunisation’ section). The highest prevalence in a 1985 study was found in the eastern Bay of Plenty. There is a higher rate of infection amongst Maori, Pacific Islanders, Chinese and South East Asian communities.

What are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis?

Symptoms of the acute illness in children include:

  • Nausea – feeling sick
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Jaundice – where the skin and eyes take on a yellow colour
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Possibly tenderness or pain on the right side of the abdomen
  • Possibly dark brown coloured urine
  • Possibly pale coloured bowel motion

Treatment for Hepatitis B

Diagnosis of hepatitis B is made by a blood test.

Generally there is no particular treatment for acute or short-term hepatitis B, apart from rest and measures to assist overall wellbeing.

Because hepatitis B is a highly infectious disease, children with the virus need to be isolated.

Bed rest is needed for a couple of weeks to nurse them back to health.

Give plenty of fluids.

It may take several months to return to full wellbeing and normal energy levels.

If your child is diagnosed with hepatitis B, other family members will need to be tested for the disease.

Babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B carriers are given antibodies and an additional vaccination at birth, plus a double dose of vaccine at six weeks and three months of age.

Most children who contract the infection will gain lifelong immunity to the disease. Some will become carriers of the disease.

There is no cure for chronic or long-term hepatitis B, though there are some treatments available including interferon. It is estimated there are around 45,000 chronic hepatitis B sufferers in New Zealand. Natural health practitioners may offer alternative treatments and support in these situations.

Risks & complications of hepatitis

It is possible that carriers of the virus will have no signs or symptoms at all of the disease – and yet they are still able to pass the virus to others. For this reason pregnant women in New Zealand are screened for the disease and, if found to be carriers, special care and extra vaccinations are given to their children.

Children who have contracted the virus may not show any symptoms at all, or may only have a short, mild flu-like illness. In 60 per cent of these cases, children spontaneously recover and develop lifelong immunity.

However, hepatitis can become chronic and continue to damage the liver without children or their parents being aware this is happening.

Later in life chronic hepatitis B can cause scarring in the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer and even liver failure.

Primarily hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted disease and can also be transmitted through cuts and grazes. The virus is ten times more infectious than HIV virus and it can live outside on the body on dry surfaces for up to 10 days.

What can I do about hepatitis B?

The Ministry of Health in New Zealand recommends that all children are vaccinated against hepatitis B (see ‘Immunisation’ section). This is free of charge and available at your GP surgery.

The virus can be found in blood, saliva, semen, vaginal fluids, tears and urine.

Those at high risk of catching hepatitis B include:

  • Intravenous drug users
  • People with many sexual partners – especially homosexual partners
  • Prisoners and prison workers
  • Health care workers, laboratory workers, funeral workers, police who come into contact with infected people
  • Travellers to underdeveloped countries

For this reason as your children grow up they need to be taught:

  • To be aware to always take care around bloody or body fluids of other people
  • Not to share items such as toothbrushes
  • Ear piercing and tattooing should only be done by reputable trained practitioners
  • Good health practices, such as washing hands regularly, washing and covering cuts, eating well and keeping their body’s immune system strong
  • Safe sex practices to help them avoid the risk of exposure to the illness
This is an essential family health reference, covering over 100 common, important, potentially serious and often worrying symptoms and emergencies, such as headaches, chest pain, dizziness, fever, bleeding, tiredness or stress. This classic bestseller has now been completely revised and updated to include the latest information on how to care for your sick child.

Helpful Websites & Articles

For more information on vaccination schedules in NZ, see our Kiwi Families article on the Immunisation schedule

www.hepfoundation.org.nz– This NZ website offers information about the disease and its treatment.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Kimberley Paterson is a writer and public relations expert living in Whangaparaoa. She had an initial career as a registered nurse and has spent the last 20 years writing about health and well-being.

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Missy riman

TRUE LIFE TESTIMONY HOW I GOT RID OF MY 5 YEARS GENITAL HERPES,GOD IS AWESOME! THIS IS REAL,PLEASE DON’T IGNORE.I caught genital herpes from my Ex Husband in 2012,he never told me about the virus. I had it for 5 years with so many outbreak,and it affected my life.. People think herpes is really a minor skin irritation herpes has a long term effects on health. The stigma attached to this virus by ignorant people is ridiculous. Most people have herpes in one form or another,i was first taking Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir(Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex), are… Read more »


The secret of happiness comes from one soul mate. Just a little mindset and Believe on that mindset. having something big inside you is the biggest thing. Lately I had a serious problem. When i was having hepatitis B, I couldn’t hold myself cause it was so hurtful that I needed help. I read a lady testimony who said she was cured for her hepatitis B with the help of one Dr Oniha. I have no choice than to give a try. Believe me i was cured perfectly for my hepatitis B, i was restored back to normal and even… Read more »


LIFE I just found out last month that I have Hepatitis B. I am a nurse and have been for many years. I have lost up to 30 pounds since the end of last year. My appetite was terrible. I had nausea and vomiting, which is something I very rarely have. On December 7th I started taking Hepatitis B natural herbal formula i purchased from Best Health Herbal Centre and 1 week later I could feel a change in energy,vomiting stopped totally and better sleep and I felt alive again!last week my doctor confirmed am Hepatitis B free totally,now am… Read more »



Liam Ava
I am 26 years old. Today I am so happy after getting my medical result which says that I am negative in HBsAg test. We are newly married and I am happy that my husband will not get infected. I am so happy I know that I will now be employed fully. I don’t have any symptoms anymore , I can drink alcohol and I can smoke.Am back to normal life,please purchase your herbal remedies for HBsAg from Dr George website ww w .goodhealthherbshome .com.


my name is Sharon am here to share my testimony about what Dr maha did for me, he saved me from dying. I confirmed that i was Hepatitis B positive when i was 7weeks pregnant, i gave birth and later confirmed that my baby was also infected. i was frustrated and hopeless, i contacted Doctors and they all promised to help me but their effort was helpless. Some of my friends began to laugh at me and said that i will die miserably, i loosed hope and thought that my child and i will never be free of hEP B,… Read more »

Andre Davis

I never new there is power in ROOTS an HERBS until i met Med Lab Tec, a powerful Herbalist who gave me live again. My name is Andre Maris Davis, i reside in Maryland USA. After 7 years of Broken marriage, my Wife left me with one kid Ella. All because i was HEPATITIS B, I felt like my life was about to end and i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a Great DR, who i met online on one faithful day when I was browsing through the internet, i came… Read more »

mark donald

OMG!!!!!!!!!! I never taught i can be this happy and healthy again in my life, after 10 years of suffering from this terrible disease called Hepatitis B (Hbsag) disease, but today i can do all activities and even physical fight with my age mates and apply for visa to any country in the world, because i was told that you can’t get visa to any country when you are caring this disease, my visa has be declined severally because of this disease am carrying, help me in thanking this clinic called health med lab for their herbal med they use… Read more »


I want to testify of how i got cured of Hepatitis B, I got infected with Hepatitis B disease in 2015, i have visited several hospitals, spiritualists and pastors for cure but all to no avail, my world was gradually coming to an end until,i searched google and read about possible cures to get cured of HBsag. i saw a post in a health forum about (MED LAB), that cures all kinds of deadly diseases including HIV AIDS, ALS, Herpes, Diabetes MND, Epilepsy, Leukemia, Asthma, Cancer, Ghonorhea etc, at first i got shocked, because many Doctors said that there is… Read more »

Bernard Farwell

I want to first say I am thankful to God almighty for making me see this day, and secondly to Doctor Uwadia Amenifo who restored my health back. I have been Hepatitis B patient for some time now, I have be running here and there looking for help/cure but none could help. I ran into a testimony by someone who testified how he was cured of a terrible disease by Doctor Uwadia Amenifo. So I decided to contact the herbal doctor. I explained to him, and he said he can cure me. We started the process, and he prepared herbs… Read more »

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x