The last thing any pregnant woman needs or wants is more pain or needles, but that should not stop most women from getting one more: the whooping cough vaccine. It may seem medically unnecessary, especially since most people have been vaccinated at some point, but the vaccine can wear off and 70 percent of babies who contract whooping cough in the first few weeks of life, catch it from their parents or other close family members.
Whooping cough is an extremely contagious bacterial disease that comes with uncontrollable, violent coughing. The disease is named because of the "whooping" sound often heard after the cough while the patient struggles to breathe. It is a very scary disease that once killed many babies, but had nearly been eradicated thanks to vaccines.
Now, it is back thanks to a shorter lifespan for the vaccine than many originally believed.
The fact is, whooping cough is serious. Some facts:
- One in 10 babies hospitalized with whooping cough end up in a neonatal intensive care unit.
- One in six chance of dying or ending up with permanent brain or lung damage.
- The disease is making a massive comeback with many new cases happening every day and outbreaks all around the world.
It is especially important for pregnant moms to get the vaccination because it offers antibodies to the unborn baby that will protect them early on. Pregnant moms can get it any time between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, according to doctors.
The vaccine can help prevent these deaths and this awful illness, but many moms don't realize their vaccine may have worn off. The most important first step is to ask your doctor or midwife if this might be you. Doctors even suspect the vaccine they once thought protected children throughout life may wear off as early as six. This means a lot of pregnant women are not protected and they don't even realize it.
Whooping cough is actually exploding around the world and that means many pregnant women are walking around putting their bodies and their baby's bodies at risk without even knowing it. Some states and cities are even sponsoring clinics to help pregnant women get vaccinated, but the quickest and best way to make sure you need it if you are worried is to ask your doctor or midwife.
No one wants to put their baby in danger, but the risks of this disease are many, especially to newborns. What might just be a minor annoyance and few weeks of rest to a grown-up could kill a young baby.
Did you have any experience with whooping cough?
Image via DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr