Whooping cough vaccine recommended for pregnant women amid spike in cases

September 12, 2014, Loyola University Health System

Expectant moms should be vaccinated for pertussis, or whooping cough, during their third trimester, according to obstetricians at Loyola University Health System. Those in close contact with the infant also should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccine.

This recommendation comes on the heels of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which found a 30 percent increase in whooping cough cases (17,325) from January to mid-August this year as compared with the same period last year.

"This spike in whooping cough may be due to the fact that the vaccine does not protect against the disease for long and parents who don't vaccinate their children may be creating more opportunities for whooping cough outbreaks," said Sarah Wagner, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Loyola University Health System.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by bacteria. This disease initially resembles a cold and progresses to uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe. Whooping cough most commonly affects infants and young children and can be life-threatening, especially in babies who are younger than 1.

The CDC and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women receive the vaccination sometime between weeks 27 and 36 of pregnancy. After receiving a whooping cough vaccine, the body creates protective antibodies to help fight the disease in mothers and infants. These antibodies provide the baby with some short-term protection against whooping cough before the infant can be vaccinated. The vaccine is most effective two weeks after it is administered, so giving the shot late in pregnancy gives babies the best protection at birth. A baby does not receive the first whooping cough vaccine until two months of age.

The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both DTaP and Tdap protect against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.

"There are currently no whooping cough vaccines recommended for newborns at birth, so we recommend that all of our pregnant patients and those around the baby get the vaccination," said Dr. Wagner, who also is an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "The vaccination is the best way to prevent whooping cough in the baby and reduces the risk of infant hospitalizations and deaths from this disease."

Dr. Wagner recommends that women get vaccinated during each subsequent pregnancy as well. The amount of antibodies in the body decreases over time. When women get the vaccine during one pregnancy, their antibody levels may not stay high enough to ensure enough protection for future pregnancies.

Explore further: Whooping cough shot cuts illness, maybe not spread

Related Stories

Whooping cough shot cuts illness, maybe not spread

November 25, 2013
A government study offers a new theory on why the whooping cough vaccine doesn't seem to be working as well as expected.

Video: New vaccine to protect babies from whooping cough

January 15, 2014
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that can be fatal. Now, a new nasal vaccination aimed at infants aims to address an unmet medical need against this disease.

Disease outbreak may not spur parents to have children vaccinated

May 5, 2014
Conventional wisdom holds that when the risk of catching a disease is high, people are more likely to get vaccinated to protect themselves.

A fifth of children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough could have whooping cough

June 24, 2014
Whooping cough has been found in a fifth of UK school age children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough, even though most have been fully vaccinated, finds a study published in BMJ today.

2012 was worst year for whooping cough since 1955

January 4, 2013
Health officials say 2012 was the nation's worst year for whooping cough in nearly six decades.

Panel: All adults should get whooping cough shots

February 22, 2012
A federal advisory panel wants all U.S. adults to get vaccinated against whooping cough.

Recommended for you

Tibetan sheep highly susceptible to human plague, originates from marmots

August 16, 2018
In the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, one of the region's highest risk areas for human plague, Himalayan marmots are the primary carriers of the infectious bacterium Y. pestis. Y. pestis infection can be transmitted to humans and ...

Autoimmunity plays role in development of COPD, study finds

August 16, 2018
Autoimmunity plays a role in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study led by Georgia State University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center that analyzed human genome information ...

Scientists identify nearly 200 potential tuberculosis drug targets

August 16, 2018
Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Nearly 2 million people die every year from this infectious disease, and an estimated 2 billion people are chronically infected. The only vaccine, developed almost ...

Reliable point-of-care blood test can help prevent toxoplasmosis

August 16, 2018
A recent study, performed in Chicago and Rabat, Morocco, found that a novel finger-prick test for infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy—and many other potential applications—is 100 percent sensitive ...

First mouse model to mimic lung disease could speed discovery of more effective treatments

August 16, 2018
The biggest hurdle to finding effective therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a life-threatening condition in which the lungs become scarred and breathing is increasingly difficult – has been the inability ...

Anticancer drug offers potential alternative to transplant for patients with liver failure

August 15, 2018
Patients suffering sudden liver failure could in the future benefit from a new treatment that could reduce the need for transplants, research published today shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.