In between dealing with first trimester symptoms and designing the baby nursery, whooping cough is typically far from most expectant mothers' minds. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now raising awareness of the condition, which plagued more than 40,000 people in 2012.
Pregnant women do not have strong immune systems throughout the duration of the nine months as their bodies go through multiple changes. For this reason, they tend to be more vulnerable to illnesses, from the common cold to influenza. Now, the CDC is recommending that expectant moms receive the vaccine for whooping cough to protect their unborn children from the ailment. Infants cannot be vaccinated for the disease until two months of age, according to NBC News. This form of preventative treatment may be able to help younger children keep whopping cough at bay.
"By vaccinating the mother, mother will then pass her immunity to the baby, and when baby is born that baby will have protection," Cody Meissner, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, told the news source.
While the shot can provide protection to the baby as soon as the pregnancy calendar comes to an end, it's important for parents to recognize that the vaccine typically only lasts for the first five years of their child's life. Further vaccination may be necessary to continue to keep whooping cough away.
What is whooping cough?
Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a condition that can impact adults and children alike. However, the underdeveloped immune systems of infants makes them more susceptible to the disease. Infants are most likely to contract the condition during the first six months of their lives before they're fully vaccinated.
The largest indicator of whooping cough is when a person experiences extended, uncontrollable periods of coughing. Affected individuals also tend to have trouble breathing and make a "whooping" sound as they gasp for air. Other symptoms associated with the condition include high fever, sneezing and a runny nose.
While the vaccination can provide adequate protection to adults and children for a few years, adults should look to get the shot every 10 years, according to the CDC. Those who are going to be in close contact with an infant should receive the shot at least two weeks beforehand to ensure they're safe to associate with the baby.
Have you or your child ever had whooping cough? How do you keep your infant safe and healthy? Leave your tips in the comments section!