6 January 2016

Vaccination in pregnancy protects newborns

WA Health is reminding pregnant women and immunisation providers of the significant impact of pertussis illness (also known as whooping cough), particularly among newborns.

Confirmed cases of pertussis infection increased throughout 2015, suggesting that another outbreak may be imminent.

This highly contagious bacterial disease is easily spread by coughing and sneezing. It can be especially severe in infants under 12 months of age, causing breathing problems, pneumonia, and sometimes death. More than 80 per cent of all deaths from pertussis occur in children less than 3 months of age. 

Recent studies show that vaccinating pregnant women can prevent more than 90 per cent of pertussis infections among infants.

In order to protect newborns, it is recommended that all pregnant women should be vaccinated against pertussis during the third trimester of pregnancy, as antibodies produced by the mother are transferred to the baby in utero and can protect the newborn during the first few months. 

Read more about the importance of pertussis vaccination in pregnancy.