Adults need the whooping cough vaccine if they want to hold newborns

After your baby is born, you have to be careful about who you allow to touch him or her during the first few months of infant development. For example, anyone who has a cold, flu or even seems to be sniffling a little should be told that, unfortunately, he or she cannot hold the baby until he or she is healthy again. This is because an illness that seems like no big deal to an adult can be life-threatening to a newborn, and you want to do everything you can to keep your baby from getting ill. 

Recently, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan found that although most parents of newborns say that they want people to have had the vaccine for pertussis -also known as whooping cough - before they hold their baby, most adults have no idea if they have had the shot. 

Dangers of pertussis
The scientists explained that cases of whooping cough are on the rise in America and have reached their highest levels in the past 50 years. If a newborn or infant who has not been vaccinated against this disease contracts it, the results could be deadly. While there has been a whooping cough vaccine available for many years, research has shown that the protection it provides may wear off over time. According to a poll conducted by the researchers, 61 percent of adults do not know when they were last vaccinated against whooping cough. This could increase their risk of unwittingly passing it on to a baby. 

"Pertussis is a very preventable disease," said Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. "But many adults may think their childhood vaccinations still are protecting them against pertussis. Findings from this poll show that few adults have received a booster shot within the recommended 10-year time frame and in fact, two-thirds told us they were not aware of their vaccination status."

The researchers found that 72 percent of adults agreed that parents have the right to tell people that they cannot hold their baby unless they have had the pertussis vaccine in the recommended frame of time, which is less than 10 years ago. 

The scientists stated that the pertussis vaccine is recommended to teens and adults, including pregnant women. The majority of infants who contract this disease get it from older children or adults who have it as well, so making sure people get vaccinated as often as recommended could reduce the number of babies who get whooping cough.

Signs of pertussis 
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all infants who get whooping cough end up needing to be hospitalized. While you may assume that if your baby has this condition he or she will be coughing, the cough is, in fact, barely there with many infants. Instead, they may experience short pauses in their breathing called apnea, which can be very dangerous for babies. 

In adults, the disease first appears to be nothing more than the common cold, and it can take up to two weeks before serious coughing occurs. This is why it's so important for parents to keep their newborns away from anyone who has a simple cold, since it could be the beginning of something far more serious. New parents should visit the doctor when they get a cold, to make sure it is not whooping cough. 

Do you know the last time you were vaccinated for whooping cough? Have you had to tell people they couldn't hold your baby because they were sick? How did that go? Leave your story here!