MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD MPH
Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Associate Director, Office of International Activities (Latin America Focus)
Director, UNC Program in Nicaragua
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7595
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Pertussis (or whooping cough) is a respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It has been becoming more common in the US over the past two decades. Infants are more likely to be hospitalized and die of the disease. They are especially vulnerable in the first months of life because they have not yet had time to complete the DTaP vaccine series themselves. (Currently, infants receive 3 doses of DTaP at 2,4, and 6 months of age.) Immunizing mothers allows the mothers to pass antibodies against pertussis through the placenta and provide passive immunity to infants early in life. In early 2013, the CDC recommended that pregnant women receive a Tdap vaccine in every pregnancy. That recommendation was based on studies of the immune response to the vaccine, not real cases of pertussis.
Our study examined clinical cases of pertussis in over 675,000 infants throughout the US. We found that in the first six months of life, infants of vaccinated mothers (those that received Tdap during pregnancy) had 75% less pertussis hospitalizations and 50% less pertussis cases overall.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: While some women may be worried about getting a vaccine in pregnancy, not getting this vaccine is likely more harmful, because it is so effectiveness against infant pertussis.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research could examine ways to increase vaccine uptake in pregnant women, since we now know that the vaccine is highly effective.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Another concern that we examined was whether vaccinating mothers might interfere with the infants’ response to the pertussis vaccine. We did not find any increased risk of pertussis later in infancy among the infants of vaccinated mothers.
Effectiveness of Prenatal Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis Vaccination in the Prevention of Infant Pertussis in the U.S.
Becker-Dreps, Sylvia et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
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