Newborns and Whooping Cough: Why You Should Vaccinate While Pregnant

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Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a very serious disease - especially for newborns - which causes severe coughing spells that can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence and rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents with whooping cough are hospitalized or have complications, which could include pneumonia or death.

Given to pregnant women, the Tdap vaccination can protect newborn babies against whooping cough. Following a new study, the CDC recommends women get the Tdap vaccination during each pregnancy at 27 through 36 weeks, preferably in the earlier part of that period, to provide critical short-term protection to babies when they are most at risk for this life-threatening illness. This timing leads to the most transfer of protective antibodies from mothers to their babies.

The new CDC study also reported that receiving the Tdap vaccination during the third trimester of pregnancy prevented more than three out of four (78%) cases of whooping cough in babies younger than two months. However, only 49% of pregnant women who delivered between fall 2015 and spring 2016 received the vaccine.

The study also reported that, in addition to being 78% effective at preventing whooping cough, the Tdap vaccination during the third trimester was 90% effective at preventing serious cases of whooping cough that require hospitalization.

Typically, between five and 15 babies die from whooping cough each year in the United States, and more than a third of all whooping cough hospitalizations and two thirds of all whooping cough deaths are in babies younger than two months. To date in 2017, more than 11,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the United States.

Because most deaths are in those too young to be protected by getting their own whooping cough vaccines, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians all support the recommendation of vaccinating while pregnant.

Talk to your physician about your options to vaccinate today.

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