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Parenting

Taking Anti-Depressants During Pregnancy

2:30

There have been several studies examining the health risks to babies when moms-to-be take anti-depressants during pregnancy. Research is showing that many antidepressants, especially the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and older medications, are generally safe. Birth defects and other problems are possible. But the risk is very low.

One concern pregnant women have had is; will taking anti-depressants harm my baby’s intellectual, neurological and social development development?

Recently, in a first-of its kind study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found a slight elevated risk of intellectual disability (ID) in children born to mothers treated with antidepressants, but the risk was not statistically significant and is likely due to other factors, including parental age and the parents' psychiatric history.

While other studies have examined the risk of autism in mother's who took antidepressants during pregnancy, this is the first study to examine the risk of ID in this population.

What is intellectual disability? According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. The term intellectual disability covers the same population of individuals who were diagnosed previously with mental retardation. It’s now the preferred term of use.

For the study, researchers examined the risk of ID in 179,000 children born in Sweden in 2006 and 2007. Approximately 4,000 of those children were exposed to antidepressants and other psychotropic medications during pregnancy. The researchers compared the risk in these children with a subsample of 23,551children whose mothers were diagnosed with depression or anxiety prior to childbirth but did not use antidepressants during pregnancy.

The results showed that the risk of ID after exposure to antidepressant medication was not much different between both groups. ID was diagnosed in about 0.9% of exposed children and 0.5% of unexposed children.

"Our study provides more information for clinicians to evaluate the risks in pregnant women taking antidepressants," said co-author Abraham Reichenberg, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "It should be factored into other considerations such as the increased risk for the mother if not medicated, the drug's side effects, and other medical conditions."

The study will be published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

Webmd.com makes some good points about pregnancy and anti-depressants and offers tips for mothers-to-be that suffer from depression. Both psychiatric experts and ob-gyn experts agree that if you have mild depression and have been symptom-free for at least six months, you may be able to stop using antidepressants under a doctor’s supervision before getting pregnant or while you are pregnant. Psychotherapy, along with lifestyle measures, may be all that you need to manage your depression. You may be able to get through your pregnancy without antidepressants if you:

  • Talk with a therapist on a regular basis
  • Exercise more
  • Spend time outside
  • Practice yoga and meditation
  • Minimize your stress

But, the experts point out, it will be better for both you and your baby to stay on antidepressants while pregnant if any of the following is true:

  • You have a history of severe or recurrent depression
  • You have a history of other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder
  • You have ever been suicidal

Few, if any, medications are considered absolutely safe during pregnancy. Research findings on the effects of antidepressants on the growing baby are mixed and inconclusive. One study may find a particular antidepressant causes one type of risk. Another one, though, may find that it doesn’t. Also, the risks to the baby may be different depending on the type of antidepressant and when in the pregnancy it is taken. Regardless, most risks found by researchers have been low.

Story sources: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712110441.htm

http://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-and-antidepressants#1

Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/unborn-babies-are-hearing-you-loud-clear-8C11005474

Your Child

Does Birth Order Impact Children’s IQ or Personality?

2:00

In 1982, “The Birth Order Book” by psychologist, Dr. Kevin Leman, was published and quickly became a best seller. The premise was that there are four personality types based on a person’s birth order. Since then, other authors have written extensively about whether one’s birth order has a lasting effect on our personalities, IQ, successes or failures in life and other physical, emotional or psychological traits.

Now, a large study from the University of Illinois says there may be a slight benefit to being the first born in a family, but the difference is miniscule and offers no real advantage or disadvantage in how a person’s life plays out.

Psychology professor Brent Roberts, along with former postdoctoral researcher Rodica Damian, conducted an analysis of 377,000 high school-age students to test the assumption.

The researchers found that first-born children do tend to have a slightly higher IQ and often display differing personality traits than their siblings later, but the differences are so small between the first- born and the later-born that they really have no significant impact on their lives.

Their analysis determined first-borns had a one-point IQ advantage over their following siblings, statistically significant in scientific terms but meaningless in suggesting any practical effects on a person's life.

Previous studies have been conducted on the same topic, but most had a small sample size – that’s why Roberts believes this study is noteworthy.

"This is a conspicuously large sample size," he says.  "It's the biggest in history looking at birth order and personality."

Looking at personality differences, the study found first-borns tended to be slightly more extroverted, conscientious, agreeable and less anxious that later-borns, but that those differences were on a scale of 0.02, or "infinitesimally small," Roberts notes.

Statistical differences can be more or less valuable depending on what is being examined.

"In some cases, if a drug saves 10 out of 10,000 lives, for example, small [statistical] effects can be profound," Roberts said. However, he noted, when it comes to personality traits a 0.02 difference is so small as to be invisible, something that wouldn't be apparent to the naked eye.

"You're not going to be able to sit two people down next to each other and see the differences between them," he says. "It's not noticeable by anybody."

Damien, who is now a now a professor of psychology at the University of Houston, says she and Roberts controlled for factors that might skew results, including a family's economic level, the number of siblings and their relative ages.

Whether a child’s birth order has any effect on his or her personality or IQ is still somewhat controversial among child psychologists and psychiatrists.  Some believe it has its place in child rearing and others think it is simply pop culture. Most would probably agree however, that a child’s later personality and IQ are typically based on more complicated factors than whether they were the first, middle, last or only child in the family.

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Source: Jim Algar,  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/69519/20150716/birth-order-has-no-effect-on-iq-or-personality-massive-study-finds.htm

 

 

Your Child

Antibiotic Resistance Rising in Kids with Urinary Tract Infections

2:00

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) affect about 3 percent of children in the United States each year and account for more than 1 million visits to a pediatrician.

The most common cause of a UTI is the bacterium E.coli, which normally lives in the large intestine and are present in a child’s stool. The bacterium enters the urethra and travels up the urinary tract causing an infection. Typical ways for an infection to occur is when a child’s bottom isn’t properly wiped or the bladder doesn’t completely empty.

Problems with the structure or function of the urinary tract commonly contribute to UTIs in infants and young children.

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics but a new scientific review warns that many kids are failing to respond to antibiotic treatment.

The reason, according to the researchers, is drug resistance following years of over-prescribing and misusing antibiotics.

"Antimicrobial resistance is an internationally recognized threat to health," noted study author Ashley Bryce, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol in the U.K.

The threat is of particular concern among the younger patients, the authors said, especially because UTIs are the most common form of pediatric bacterial infections.

Young children are more vulnerable to complications including kidney scarring and kidney failure, so they require prompt, appropriate treatment, added Bryce and co-author Ceire Costelloe. Costelloe is a fellow in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at Imperial College London, also in the U.K.

"Bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics can limit the availability of effective treatment options," ultimately doubling a patient's risk of death, they noted.

The study team reviewed 58 prior investigations conducted in 26 countries that collectively looked at more than 77,000 E. coli samples.

Researchers found that in wealthier countries, such as the U.S., 53 percent of pediatric UTI cases were found to be resistant to amoxicillin, one of the most commonly prescribed primary care antibiotics. Other antibiotics such as trimethoprim and co-amoxiclav (Augmentin) were also found to be non-effective with a quarter of young patients resistant and 8 percent resistant respectively.

In poorer developing countries, resistance was even higher at 80 percent, 60 percent respectively and more than a quarter of the patients were resistant to ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and 17 percent to nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)).

The study team said they couldn’t give a definitive reason about cause and effect but said the problem in wealthier countries probably relates to primary care doctors' routine and excessive prescription of antibiotics to children.

In poorer nations, "one possible explanation is the availability of antibiotics over the counter," they said, making the medications too easy to access and abuse.

"If left unaddressed, antibiotic resistance could re-create a world in which invasive surgeries are impossible and people routinely die from simple bacterial infections," they added.

In an accompanying editorial, Grant Russell, head of the School of Primary Health Care at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said the only surprise was the extent of the resistance and how many first-line antibiotics were likely to be ineffective.

If current trends persist, he warned, it could lead to a serious situation in which relatively cheap and easy-to-administer oral antibiotics will no longer be of practical benefit to young UTI patients. The result would be a greater reliance on much more costly intravenous medications.

The problem of antibiotic resistance for bacterial infections has been on the minds of scientist for some time now.  Cases are increasing at an unprecedented rate causing alarm and a call for more public education and due diligence on the part of physicians that prescribes antibiotics.

Story source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160316/antibiotic-resistance-common-in-kids-urinary-tract-infections

 

 

Your Child

Recess Is Important for Kids

1.45 to read

Add recess to reading, writing and arithmetic says a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.)  The pediatricians believe that recess can be as important to a child’s overall development as standard classes and should never be denied, especially as a punishment.

"We consider it essentially the child's personal time and don't feel it should be taken away for academic or punitive reasons," said Dr. Robert Murray, who co-authored the new policy statement for the AAP.

According to the authors, recess is a “crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.”

Other reasons given for the importance of recess are that it helps students develop better communication skills, counteracts the time sitting in classrooms, and may foster skills such as cooperation and sharing - all good things.

The authors noted that previous research has found that children are able to pay closer attention and perform tasks better after a recess break.  A year ago, 14 studies were reviewed and researchers found that kids who get more exercise do better in school. Recess and sports related activities offer children the opportunity to exercise and burn off excess energy.  They also get a chance to recharge their brains and bodies.

Other organizations have recommended that children need recess as well. The American Heart Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CPSC) both call for schools to offer recess to kids.  You might think that recess in schools is a given, but in a 2011 survey of 1,800 elementary schools, researchers discovered that a third of the schools did not offer recess to their third-graders.  However, most schools do offer recess of between 15 and 30 minutes once or twice a day.

Is there a particular time of day that helps kids most?  Before lunch seems to be the consensus from government agencies, CPSC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Previous studies have found that children waste less food and behave better for the rest of the day when their recess is before their scheduled lunch, the pediatricians' statement notes.

They also agree that PE should not be substituted for recess. "Those are completely different things and they offer completely different outcomes," said Murray. "(Physical education teachers are) trying to teach motor skills and the ability of those children to use those skills in a bunch of different scenarios. Recess is a child's free time."

Free time means no structured activities by adults such as games. "I think it becomes structured to the point where you lose some of those developmental and social emotion benefits of free play," said Murray.

"This is a very important and overlooked time of day for the child and we should not lose sight of the fact that it has very important benefits," he added.

I remember recess fondly.  A group of friends would gather and run from one end of the schoolyard to the other at full gallop. The first one back would win the honor of becoming the “lead horse.” Yes, in our recess fantasy we were a heard of horses – whinnying and throwing our heads around (showing off our glorious manes.)

It was fun and exhilarating as we trotted around strutting our stuff.

Recess isn’t only important because it breaks up the monotony of sitting, studying and listening, it can also spark the imagination!

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/pediatricians-kids-recess-during-school-0547374

Your Baby

Gut Bacteria Linked to Kid’s Asthma

2:00

Four types of gut bacteria may reduce a child’s risk of developing asthma according to a recent Canadian study.

Most Infants - but not all - typically receive these bacteria from their environment or mothers after birth. Sometimes babies are given antibiotics that not only kill bad bacteria, but eliminating the helpful gut bacteria as well.

"We now have particular markers that seem to predict asthma later in life," lead researcher Brett Finlay, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said during a news conference Tuesday.

"These findings indicate that bacteria that live in and on us may have a role in asthma," he said. This seems to happen by 3 months of age in ways that still aren't clear.

Previous studies have shown that certain environmental bacteria, such as living on a farm or having pets, appear to decrease the chances of children developing asthma.

Another interesting clue to asthma is what populations seem to have the most cases. Instances of asthma have increased in western countries where hygiene standards are higher. "Ironically, it has not increased in developing countries," Finlay said.

Organizations that specifically track asthma cases around the world say that as developing countries move from poverty into low-to-middle income, cases of childhood asthma begin to increase.

The "hygiene hypothesis," says environments that are too clean may actually impede development of the immune system.

For the study, Finlay and colleagues looked for four types of bacteria in stool samples of 319 infants at 3 months of age. The bacteria are called FLVR (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella and Rothia).

The researchers found that 22 children with low levels of these bacteria at age 3 months also had low levels at age 1 year.

These 22 children are at the highest risk of developing asthma, and eight have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease so far, the researchers said.

Study co-author Dr. Stuart Turvey, professor of pediatric immunology at the University of British Columbia, said at the news conference that it's "not surprising how important early life is."

In the first 100 days of life, gut makeup influences the immune response that causes or protects kids from asthma, he said.

Turvey also noted that testing infants for these bacteria might help identify children who will be at high risk for asthma. Babies without FLVR bacteria could be followed and treated earlier for better outcomes he said.

Whether giving kids probiotics -- good bacteria -- might reduce asthma risk isn't known, the researchers said. Turvey said the probiotics available in over-the-counter forms do not include the four bacteria identified in this study.

"Studies like ours are identifying specific bacteria combinations that seem to be missing in the children at the highest risk of asthma," he said. "The long-term goal is to see if we could offer these bacteria back, not the general nonspecific probiotics."

Finlay said the findings need to be replicated in larger groups and in different populations. He said the researchers also want to know if all four bacteria are protective, or just one or two.

As with most studies, the results did not prove a cause and effect only a connection, in this case between gut bacteria and asthma risk in children.

The report was published online in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20150930/gut-bacteria-tied-to-asthma-risk-in-kids

 

 

Your Baby

Homemade or Commercial Baby Food- Which is Best?

1:45

A new study from the U.K. looked at homemade baby food versus commercial baby food bought in grocery stores. They both come up winners in some categories and losers in others.

The researchers wanted to assess how well homemade and commercially available readymade meals designed for infants and young children met age specific national dietary recommendations.

Once thought to be the ideal baby food, homemade meals turned out to be higher in calories and fat and more time-consuming to prepare, but less expensive and higher in nutrients and variety. Commercial baby food came in more convenient, lower in calories, total fats and salt but was more expensive and lacked variety. Sugar content was about the same in both foods.

Each option had upsides and downsides. For example, home-cooked food had higher nutritional content, but 50% of homemade meals also exceed calorie recommendations, and 37% exceeded the recommendations for calories from fat, reported a research team led by Sharon Carstairs, a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Only 7% of the commercial baby food evaluated exceeded calorie recommendations, and less than 1% exceeded recommendations for calories from fat, Carstairs and colleagues reported in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Researchers compared the store-bought meals with 408 recipes for home-cooked infant meals obtained from best-selling published cookbooks. The investigators entered the recipe ingredients into dietary analysis software to calculate the nutritional composition of the recipes per 100 grams.

A chief limitation of the study was that it only analyzed the recipes for homemade meals and did not take into account how these meals might be prepared in "real life."

"Parents may use cookbooks prescriptively or only as guidance, and thus the nutritional content of home-cooked recipes can vary greatly, and this can be augmented further by natural variations in the nutritional composition of raw ingredients," Carstairs and colleagues noted.

In addition, "the authors may have overestimated the values for salt within home-cooked recipes as it was often cited as optional; these results should thus be considered with caution."

The study reassures parents that it is okay to give homemade food to babies being weaned from breast milk or formula, Lauri Wright, PhD, of the University of South Florida College of Public Health and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told MedPage Today.

"This is an important study, because in the United States parents think they have to do the commercial foods. Parents are afraid their child will miss out on nutrients if they don't give the specialized baby food."

The greater variety offered by homemade food may result in healthier taste preferences later in life, Wright added. "We used to think that taste preference developed at age 4 or 5, but we now know that taste preferences develop with the introduction of these first solid foods."

The bottom line from this study is that both types of baby food are acceptable; each comes with its own pros and cons. Just like with any other meal, how your homemade baby food is prepared is the key to whether it’s going to be healthy or not for baby. Understanding the guidelines for nourishing infant food and knowing the nutritional values of the foods you use, can help you prepare a wholesome meal for baby. Commercial baby foods also offer convenience and lower calories and fats. A mix of both will probably suit most families very well.

Story source: Medpage Today staff, http://www.medpagetoday.com/pediatrics/generalpediatrics/59228

 

 

Your Teen

Studies: Smoking and Students

1.45 to read

Everyone knows that smoking is really bad for you. But, how do you help kids keep from starting the expensive and nasty habit in the first place? Peer pressure seems to help. And for young adults who are already smokers, what will it take to break the habit? Perhaps being able to breathe better is a key motivator.

Kids as young as 10 admit to sneaking a smoke every once in a while, while 17 percent of high-school students and 5.2 percent of middle-school students admit to being daily cigarette smokers. Many college students bring their habit with them when they enroll.

What helps kids keep from starting to smoke? A new study suggests that kids who are involved in team sports with teammates, who do not smoke, are less likely to start. 

Interestingly, the study showed that girls involved in sports with teammates who do smoke, are more likely to give it a try. Peer pressure seems to have more of an impact among girls.

"This result suggests that peers on athletic teams influence the smoking behavior of others even though there might be a protective effect overall of increased participation in athletics on smoking," study leader Kayo Fujimoto, who conducted the research while at the University of Southern California, said in a journal news release.

Researchers questioned 1,260 sixth through eighth graders about their smoking behavior. The children were middle class, lived in urban areas and ethnically diverse. The study, appearing Feb. 8 in Child Development, found that the more sports the kids played, the less likely they were to smoke.

The authors of the study believe that these findings may be helpful in improving anti-smoking campaigns aimed at children.

"Current guidelines recommend the use of peer leaders selected within the class to implement such programs," said Fujimoto. "The findings of this study suggest that peer-led interactive programs should be expanded to include sports teams as well."

Another recent study focused on college students who smoke.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, studied 327 college students- ages 18 to 24 years old- who participated in a program to help motivate them to quit smoking. More than half the students smoked five to 10 cigarettes a day and had smoked for one to five years.

Participants who quit smoking for two weeks or more reported substantially fewer respiratory symptoms, especially coughing, than those who failed to kick the habit.

"That the benefit of stopping smoking starts in days to weeks -- not years or decades -- is important. Now health care providers can counsel young smokers that their breathing can feel better soon after they stop. This can help to motivate young adults to stop smoking before the severe damage is done," journal editor Dr. Harold Farber, an associate professor of pediatrics in the pulmonology section at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a journal news release.

Smoking has continued to decrease on college campuses, perhaps due to stricter smoking policies. Many colleges prohibit smoking anywhere on campus, and others do not allow smoking within a certain amount of feet from doorways. Cigarettes are expensive as well. Many college students are barely getting by with the increase costs in tuition. Something has to give, and cutting out cigarettes can save a pretty tidy sum. Also, smoking has lost a lot of its “cool” factor. Many students just find it annoying. 

Health professionals are always looking for ways to impress upon young people that smoking isn’t only a social nuisance, it can also become a serious long-term health problem.

Perhaps these studies can offer counselors, parents and friends, new discussion points in the battle to help kids avoid smoking or to help them quit. 

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=66152 /  http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/26596

Your Child

Whooping Cough Vaccine Effectiveness Fades

2:00

While the measles outbreak was making headlines around the country, another vaccine related outbreak was already an epidemic.

In the last five years, state health officials twice declared whooping cough (also known as pertussis) an epidemic – once in 2010 and again in 2014. Eleven thousand people were sickened and three infants died.

Whooping cough is a serious infection of the respiratory system caused by bacterium. It is easily spread from person to person.

Symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, fever and severe coughing that can sometimes end in the “whooping” sound when a person gasps for air.

Pertussis mainly affects infants younger than 6 months old before immunizations, and kids 11 to 18 years old whose immunity has started to fade.

Although whooping cough can also make adults very ill, sometimes leading to pneumonia and hospitalization, another major concern is that adults are the most common source of infection in infants.

An analysis of a recent whooping cough epidemic in Washington state shows that the effectiveness of the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)  used to fight the illness waned significantly over time.

For adolescents who received all their shots, effectiveness within one year of the final booster was 73 percent. The effectiveness rate plummeted to 34 percent within two to four years.

The vaccine has changed over the years and those changes may be responsible for the fading effectiveness. The pertussis protection is from the acellular pertussis vaccine. It was introduced in 1997 to replace the whole-cell vaccine, which caused more side effects. Monday's report confirms earlier analysis that the acellular pertussis vaccine may be safer, but less effective, than the old one.

The latest analysis does not mean or even suggest that children and adults should not get the pertussis vaccine. Someone who is vaccinated, but becomes sick with whooping cough, should have a less severe course of illness. The Tdap vaccine is also recommended for college students who did not receive the vaccine as a preteen or teen.

The authors said that new vaccines are "likely needed to reduce the burden of pertussis disease." But Dr. Art Reingold, who leads the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices group on pertussis, said he doesn't know of any pertussis vaccine development in the pipeline.

An added dose doesn’t seem to help either according to research that was presented to the ACIP group. "(An additional dose) would have very little impact on pertussis," Reingold said, "in terms of cases prevented."

Unvaccinated babies are at the highest risk for whooping cough. Since infants can’t be vaccinated until they are 2 months old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women get the Tdap vaccine during the last trimester of their pregnancy.

"Babies will be born with circulating antibodies," Reingold said, "and there's pretty good evidence that that will reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in babies."

Reingold also drew an interesting distinction between measles and pertussis having to do with herd immunity. If a large enough percentage of the population is immunized against measles, both individuals and the broader community are protected against outbreak. That's because the measles vaccine protects you against the virus that actually causes the measles illness.

But in pertussis, toxins that are released by bacteria cause the disease. The pertussis vaccine protects you against those toxins, but may not prevent you from spreading the bacteria to others — and causing illness in them.

While the vaccine is helpful in reducing symptoms, Reingold believes that "Pertussis is not going to go away with the current vaccine."

Sometimes there can be a bit of confusion between the DTaP and Tdap vaccines; the letters are similar and they are used to help prevent the same diseases.

DTaP is the vaccine that helps children younger than 7 - years  - old develop immunity to diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Tdap is the booster immunization given at age 11 that offers continued protection.

The Tdap vaccine is the one discussed in this study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Lisa Aliferis, http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/05/05/404407258/whooping-cough-vaccines-protection-fades-quickly

http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/dtap-and-tdap-vaccines

 

 

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