Eliminate Whooping Cough in the Womb

90% of Pertussis cases in newborns under 3 months-old avoided by vaccinating the mother during the third trimester

older sibling kissing new born baby

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States is experiencing the largest outbreak of reported Pertussis, which is commonly known as Whooping Cough, in 50 years.

Why is this vaccine-preventable disease on the upswing?

A recent study reviewed the safety of the diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis (DTP) vaccine, and the development of new vaccines using acellular pertussis components (DTaP).

The study was published in this week's Eurosurveillance and used lab-confirmed cases of pertussis in newborns to calculate risk.

This study’s results observed a high effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine, in two aspects, which are:

  • Around 90% of the cases in newborns under 3 months-old might be avoided by vaccinating their mother in the third trimester of pregnancy
  • A possible protective effect of breastfeeding in the absence of vaccination

“Finally, at a time in which whooping cough presents new epidemiological features and new challenges for its control, our study, together with others recently published in other contexts, provide enough evidence in favour of the implementation of vaccination programmes for pregnant women in order to prevent whooping cough in infants,’ said the researchers.

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Before vaccination, pertussis was a universal disease of early childhood.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the widespread use of Tdap vaccination in pregnancy can result in significant decreases in pertussis, particularly in young infants before their first DTaP vaccine dose or who are protected by only 1 dose of DTaP.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a very contagious disease that can be deadly for babies. It is spread from person to person, usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others.

The CDC Vaccine Price Lists including DTaP are posted here.

These researchers did not disclose any conflicts of interest: Juan B. Bellido-Blasco: Study Design, data collection, data analysis, drafted the manuscript, article review. Silvia Guiral Rodrigo: Study Design, drafted the manuscript, article review. Ana Míguez Santiyán: Study Design, data collection, article review. Antonio Salazar-Cifre: Study Design, data collection, drafted the manuscript, article review. Francisco González-Morán: Study Design, article review.