Protecting Newborns Against Whooping Cough

Source: New York Times | Page: D4

By: Bakalar, Nicholas


The Tdap vaccine—which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis—is recommended for all pregnant women, and it may help newborns as well. Children aged at least two months can receive a different version of the vaccine, but most pertussis-related deaths occur in infants too young to be vaccinated. A small clinical trial randomized 33 pregnant women to a vaccination at 30 to 32 weeks gestation, while another 15 received a placebo shot. Researchers found no serious side effects in either the women or infants, and none of them developed pertussis. However, women in the vaccination group and their newborn babies had high concentrations of pertussis antibodies. The antibodies did not significantly affect the babies’ response to the recommended four doses of the infant vaccine given from age two months to 13 months. The researchers report their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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