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Your Baby

Whooping Cough Shot During Pregnancy Protects Newborns

2:00

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, typically affects babies younger than 6 months who haven’t received or aren’t old enough to receive the vaccine. It can cause such uncontrollable fits of coughing that it can be deadly for babies, who may stop breathing, have seizures, develop pneumonia, or suffer brain damage.

Since 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that pregnant women receive a vaccine called Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), to prevent their newborn from getting the bacterial infection.

While the preventative measure is working to lower the numbers of infant whooping cough cases, only about half of mothers-to-be are opting to receive the vaccine, according to a new study.

Researchers from the CDC analyzed data from 2011 to 2014, from six states, on babies younger than 2 months. The investigators found that Tdap vaccination in the third trimester of pregnancy prevented 78 percent of whooping cough cases.

Among babies who developed whooping cough despite their mothers’ vaccination, 90 percent had mild cases and did not require hospitalization.

"Women have such a great opportunity to help protect their babies before they enter the world by getting the Tdap vaccine while pregnant," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 

Babies cannot receive the vaccination before 2 months of age and infants younger than 1 year are at the highest risk for severe complications or death from whooping cough. Each year, five to 15 babies die from whooping cough in the United States. In most cases, these infants were too young to get their own shot, the CDC researchers said. So far this year, more than 11,000 cases have been reported.

Pertussis is highly contagious. The bacterium spreads from person to person through tiny drops of fluid from an infected person's nose or mouth. These may become airborne when the person sneezes, coughs, or laughs. Inhaling the drops or getting the drops on their hands and then touching their mouths or noses can then infect others.

"This study highlights how babies can benefit when their mothers get the vaccine, and reinforces CDC's recommendation for women to get Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of each pregnancy," Messonnier added in an agency news release.

Story sources: Marie McCullough, http://www.philly.com/philly/health/kids-families/study-whooping-cough-vaccination-during-pregnancy-protects-newborns-20170928.html

Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/centers-for-disease-control-news-120/whooping-cough-shot-works-but-many-moms-to-be-skip-it-cdc-726985.html

Your Baby

Tdap Vaccine Protects Mother and Newborn

1:45

A new study shows that the Tdap vaccine, (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), is safe for pregnant women and their unborn child.

The vaccine does not appear to cause birth defects or any other major health problems for a developing fetus, according to a review of more than 324,000 live births between 2007 and 2013.

"We basically showed there is no association between receiving the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy and these congenital [birth] defects, including microcephaly," said lead researcher Dr. Malini DeSilva. She is a clinical investigator for HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis.

Controversy over vaccines has caused some pregnant women to worry about possible side effects. The study is part of ongoing efforts to monitor the safety of vaccines, DeSilva said. Her center is part of the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a collaborative project led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that includes health care organizations across the nation.

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a bacterial infection that gets into your nose and throat. Whooping cough is dangerous in babies, especially ones younger than 6 months old. In severe cases, they may need to go to an ER. Babies with whooping cough may not make the typical whooping sound or even cough, but might gasp for air instead.

Babies can't receive the vaccine that protects against these diseases until they are 2 months old, DeSilva said. Until they do, they have a high risk of contracting whooping cough.

"In between the time they're born and their 2 months' visit, they don't really have any protective antibodies other than what has passed through the placenta," DeSilva said. "There have been some studies that show there is an increased chance of passing these antibodies when the mother gets this vaccine."

The researchers found that maternal Tdap inoculation wasn't significantly associated with increased risk for any major birth defects in vaccinations occurring at less than 14 weeks' gestation, between 27 and 36 weeks' gestation, or during any week of pregnancy.

Dr. Amesh Adalja is a senior associate with the University of Pittsburgh's UPMC Center for Health Security. He said, "This study illustrates the safety of maternal Tdap vaccination and the lack of an association with any birth defects." Adalja was not involved with the new report.

"Vaccination of pregnant women with this vaccine is an important aspect of protecting neonates from pertussis, a potentially fatal condition," Adalja added. "This study should reassure physicians and patients and hopefully increase vaccination rates in pregnancy."

The Tdap vaccine has been recommended for unvaccinated pregnant women since 2010 in California, and since 2011 across the United States, researchers said in background information.

The study was published Nov. 1 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pertussis is very contagious and is particularly dangerous for infants. With the cold season underway, the Tdap vaccine is highly recommended for pregnant women as well as the general public.

Story sources: Dennis Thompson, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/vaccine-news-689/common-vaccine-is-safe-for-mother-baby-in-pregnancy-716379.html

Renee A. Alli, MD, http://www.webmd.com/children/guide/whooping-cough-symptoms-treatment#1

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