Whooping Cough During Pregnancy: Risks, Vaccinations and Facts

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough is a serious infection that can be deadly for pregnant women and their babies. This article will help you understand the risks, vaccines and facts about whooping cough during pregnancy. It is important to know what you are up against before deciding on what steps to take in order to protect yourself or your family members from this disease.

Risks of Pertussis in Pregnancy

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a very contagious respiratory infection that can be life-threatening to pregnant women and their babies. The disease begins with cold-like symptoms including mild fever, runny nose or congestion for up to two weeks before the classic ‘whoop’ sound of laboured breathing that can last for up to two or three weeks. It is estimated that about half of newborns who contract the disease will need hospitalization, one in four babies are hospitalized with apnea (slowed breathing) and less than five percent die from it. And these numbers vary according to state. The best way to protect young babies against whooping cough is by vaccinating pregnant women. Your antibodies will pass on from you and help create a protective layer for their developing immune system when they are too small or ill-equipped themselves with medications that could harm them in some cases.

Whooping cough Vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women get the whooping cough vaccination during every pregnancy in order to protect themselves against this potentially deadly disease. Vaccinations are available through your doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner at prenatal visits starting early on in the second trimester of pregnancy. It is important to remember that you should not get the vaccination if you are allergic to any of its components. The vaccine is a simple and safe way for pregnant women to protect themselves from whooping cough as well as their babies once they give birth. It’s important to get the Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks gestation because it takes at least two months for this shot to start protecting a mother from pertussis. Unfortunately, if you are exposed to whooping cough before you receive the vaccine, it will not be effective.

In summary, there are several things you need to know about the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy.

  • It’s important that expectant mothers get vaccinated between 20 and 36 weeks gestation.
  • The vaccine is safe to take during pregnancy with no risks for you or your baby.
  • If you are exposed to whooping cough before getting vaccinated, it will not offer protection against infection.

Dr Caroline Hoggenmueller, one of Melbourne’s leading experts in prenatal care, advises pregnant women to get the whooping cough vaccine during their third trimester.

I’ve been seeing a lot of questions about Whooping cough in pregnancy lately. But it’s been my experience that it can be very dangerous for mother and baby, so it’s important to avoid them! If you have any concerns or would like help addressing your Whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy please get in touch with me.