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Thinking About Becoming Pregnant? Get The Whooping Cough Vaccine

First Posted: Sep 12, 2014 01:12 PM EDT

The health of a mother-to-be will ultimately influence her future child.

Recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now suggest that expectant mothers or women looking to become pregnant soon should get vaccinated for the whooping cough--a contagious respiratory illness caused by bacteria that's extremely fatal to infants.

The disease, which is characterized by uncontrollable coughing, can fortunately be controlled by a vaccination during the third term of pregnancy, according to researchers.

"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, in a news release

In fact, this year alone, the CDC reported a spike in whooping cough cases from January to Mid-August. They found that it was already 30 percent higher than the number recorded last year during the same time period.

Fortunately, the vaccine can help greatly reduce the risk. Here's how it works: the antibodies trigger infection-fighting properties that work two weeks after it has been injected. Since babies cannot get the vaccine, known as DTaP, which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria, getting this vaccine during pregnancy 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," concluded 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."

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