Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is a highly contagious disease that causes severe coughing. People with pertussis may make a “whooping” sound when they try to breathe. In newborns, pertussis can be a life-threatening illness. It can be prevented with a vaccine called Tdap which contains tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis.
The majority of harmful effects attributable to pertussis infection occurs in infants who are less than 3 months of age. Infants do not begin their own vaccine series against pertussis until 2 months of age. This situation leaves a window of vulnerability for newborns.
Due to the persistent increases in pertussis disease in the United States, guidelines for the use of Tdap for pregnant women have been updated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Obstetric Practice supports these revised recommendations:
The revised guidelines recommend that women receive a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, irrespective of the patient’s prior history of receiving Tdap.
To maximize the maternal antibody response and antibody transfer levels in the newborn, optimal timing for Tdap administration is between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation, although Tdap may be given at any time during pregnancy.
There is no evidence of adverse fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant women with an inactivated virus such as Tdap. For women who previously have not received Tdap, if Tdap was not administered during pregnancy it should be administered immediately postpartum to the mother. Additionally, other family members and planned direct caregivers also should receive Tdap.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to discuss this with us at the time of your next visit.
Below are links to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations regarding Tdap: