Recent outbreaks of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, worry us all, but moms-to-be are on especially high-alert these days, given the concern that their newborn may be especially vulnerable. Infants cannot be vaccinated for the disease until they're 2 months old. For that reason, over the past year, doctors have been routinely immunizing pregnant women with the Tdap vaccine with hopes of reducing risk for both mom and infant. Now, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston are taking a closer look at the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
They gave the vaccine to 33 pregnant women and a dummy shot to 15 women. None of the women given the immunization had serious side effects. Babies of moms were all born healthy. Plus, the article on the study, published the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), notes that babies whose mothers were vaccinated had antibodies in their blood at levels that should protect against the infections.
Sounds great! Still, it bears noting that the researchers wrote:
Further research is needed to provide definitive evidence of the safety and efficacy of Tdap immunization during pregnancy.
In other words, while this study looks promising, it's imperative that we keep reviewing this and all other treatments or immunizations given to expectant mothers. The stakes are simply too high not to. We want to be absolutely sure that what we're being told is safe and effective and best for our babies really is all of the above.
Thankfully, researchers at Baylor and others in the field are clearly committed to better understanding all the moving parts of complicated medical recommendations like this. We can use as many studies as these as we can get. After all, with too little information, we're left flying blind.
Expectant moms deserve to have all the details on hand when making the medical decision that's best for them. Thus, the more research, the better informed we are, and the better off both we and our children will be.
What recommendations for pregnant women would you like to see studied more?
Image via NHS Employers/Flickr