Family 411: Whooping Cough
For the first time, the Centers For Disease Control says expectant moms should get vaccinated for pertussis. It's also known as whooping cough.
Whooping cough has been on the rise in the U.S. since the 1980s and it's especially dangerous for babies.
"I gave birth to a very strong, healthy 9 lb. baby boy, Colin, and unbeknownst to me, I passed pertussis right onto him," said Mary Clayton.
Mary Clayton Enderlein got pertussis while pregnant after her older son had a playdate. Colin survived, but whooping cough killed 194 infants two months old or younger between 2000 and last year.
"My son is nine months old and has had three colds, and I had a meltdown every time because I didn't know what it was," said Kendra Boyette.
Kendra Boyette is expecting her second baby. The CDC now recommends that all pregnant women get the T-Dap vaccine during their third tri-mester. It's a booster for the pertussis shot most people get when they're children.
"The vaccines just don't last a long long time," said Dr. Doucette.
And women should get it with each pregnancy. After getting the shot, a pregnant woman's body will create and transfer protective antibodies to her baby before birth.
"The vaccine is most effective two weeks after getting the vaccine, and infants can't get vaccinated until they're about two months old," said Dr. Doucette.
The CDC says there are several things expectant mothers and new parents can do keep their babies safe from pertussis:
- Get Vaccinated While Pregnant to give your baby short-term protection in the early weeks when he is most vulnerable.
- Surround Babies with a cocoon protection by asking anyone who is around your baby to get a whooping cough vaccine, including caregivers, siblings and grandparents.
- Vaccinate your baby with all five doses starting at age two months.
Symptoms of pertussis are much like a cold at first, including runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and a mild cough. But within a week or two whooping cough has a very distinctive sound. It's marked by a "whoop" when a child is gasping for breath after a severe coughing attack.