How to Protect Your Baby From Whooping Cough

How to Protect Your Baby From Whooping Cough

As a parent, the thought of your baby getting whooping cough, or pertussis, may concern you. But you can take steps to protect your little one, even before he is born.

In order to keep your baby safe, you’ll need to protect yourself and your whole family.

Whooping Cough Is Very Easy to Catch

Pertussis vaccines don’t completely wipe out whooping cough. The protection you get from the childhood vaccine — or from having whooping cough — wanes after a while.

If you’ve had the vaccine, you may still get whooping cough, but not a severe case. In fact, you may mistake it for a cold. And you can still spread it.

“It’s quite contagious,” says Kathryn M. Edwards, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program. “It makes you cough, which is an effective way for the organism to spread.” Sneezing and even just breathing are other ways to pass it throughout your household.

It’s Very Dangerous for Babies

When a baby catches whooping cough, it can have breathing trouble, pneumonia, and in rare cases, even brain damage or death. Infants aren’t vaccinated for whooping cough until they are 2 months old.

“Most deaths from whooping cough occur in babies under 4 months old,” says James Cherry, MD, a specialist in children’s infectious diseases, “and most of these babies have gotten it from their parents, particularly their mothers.”

The Vaccinations

There are two pertussis vaccines:

  • DTaP is for children under 7 years old.
  • Tdap is for adults and older children.

Both Tdap and DTaP also protect against diphtheria and tetanus.

Get a Vaccine When You’re Pregnant

If you are expecting, protecting yourself protects your baby.

“A woman should get a Tdap vaccine every time she is pregnant,” Edwards says.

Get the shot between weeks 27 and 36 of your pregnancy. It helps you build antibodies to fight whooping cough that you pass on to your newborn, protecting him before he can get his first DTaP shot.

Build a Circle of Protection at Home

All other adults, older children, and caregivers who will come into close contact with your infant should also have a Tdap shot.

The ideal age to get the Tdap shot is 11 or 12 years old. But teen siblings, cousins, grandparents, and caregivers who haven’t already had the shot should get one, at least 2 weeks before being around the baby.

Get Baby’s Vaccines on Schedule

Your baby starts building his own immunity when he gets the first DTaP shot. He should get a total of five doses, one each at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15-18 months
  • 4-6 years

When kept to schedule, the vaccine is 80% to 90% effective, and will protect the child until he or she is ready for the Tdap shot.

About one in four children get a fever or soreness, swelling, or redness at the site of the DTaP shot, most likely after a later dose. In rare cases, some children have severe reactions to the vaccine and should stop getting it.

Source: webmd

Whooping cough reaches epidemic level in Texas

People of all ages can get whooping cough, but infants have the greatest risk of contracting it

Whooping cough has reached epidemic proportions in Texas and could hit a 50-year high, a health official said on Thursday.

Nearly 2,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Texas this year. Two infants, who were too young to receive the whooping cough vaccine, have died, state officials said. The number of cases likely will surpass the recent high of 3,358 in 2009, according to the state health services department.

“We’re clearly having an epidemic,” said Dr. Carol Baker, the director of the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Dr. Lisa Cornelius, Texas infectious diseases medical officer, said: This is extremely concerning. Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously.”

Pertussis or whooping cough is a bacterial infection that often begins with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough, followed a week or two later by severe coughing that can last for several weeks, health officials said.

It spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. People of all ages can get whooping cough, but infants have the greatest risk of contracting it, they said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services issued an alert this week urging doctors to screen for whooping cough and encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

Last year, 49 states reported an increase in whooping cough cases, but most states have experienced declines so far this year, data shows. Researchers attribute the rise to a new type of pertussis vaccine, which is safer but less effective over the long run, and to a decline in the number of children being vaccinated.

Whooping cough vaccinations for infants can’t be completed until babies are four months old, Baker said.

Most children are vaccinated by the time they reach adolescence, Baker said. Vaccination is recommended during pregnancy to protect the mother and the newborn, she said.

Last year, more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Infants had the highest rate, followed by children ages 7 to 10.

In 2012, 49 states and the District of Columbia reported increases in cases compared to the prior year, the CDC said. Most had double or triple the rate of prior years.

So far in 2013, only 16 states are ahead of last year’s pace for whooping cough, the data showed. More than half are in the South.
The article originally appeared in fox news