A woman in the antigenaemic phase of acute hepatitis gave birth to a female child after 35 weeks' gestation. No antigen was detected in the child's blood at birth or after 32 days. At 59 days, however, the test for antigen was strongly positive. The child remained well with no jaundice or other clinical evidence of disease, but positive tests for antigen and raised serum alanine transferase levels persisted throughout the first 2 years of life. Evidence from serological tests and electron microscopical appearances suggested that the infant developed some antibody but not sufficient to eliminate the antigen. The significance of these findings is discussed in relation to long-term carriage of serum hepatitis virus by healthy subjects, and the possibility of `vertical transmission' from mother to child.
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