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Doctors Recommend Pregnant Women to get Whooping Cough Vaccine

Update Date: Sep 12, 2014 11:47 AM EDT
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Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by bacteria that can be extremely fatal for infants. In order to prevent this disease, which is characterized by uncontrollable and oftentimes, violent, coughing, obstetricians from Loyola University Health System are recommending pregnant women to get vaccinated during their third trimester.

"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, according to Medical Xpress.

The team of experts is recommending women in their third trimester of pregnancy and women who come in close contact with their infants to get the pertussis vaccine. Currently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend women to get the vaccine during weeks 27 through 36 of pregnancy.

The vaccine triggers the body to produce antibodies that would fight a bacterial infection. The vaccine is the most effective two weeks after it is injected. Since babies cannot get the vaccine, known as DTaP, which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria, until they are two-months-old, getting this vaccine during pregnancy and after birth is vital.

"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."

Just this year alone, the CDC reported a spike in whopping cough cases. From January to Mid-August, the number of cases is already 30 percent higher than the number recorded during the same time period last year.

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