Is the whooping cough vaccine safe for pregnant women?
Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch confirms the Tdap vaccine is safe for pregnant women. The researchers presented their findings at the Annual Conference on Vaccine Research in Bethesda, MD., this month.
The study looked at pregnancy and birth outcomes for more than 850 pregnant women, comparing health outcomes of mothers who did and did not receive the Tdap vaccine while pregnant. Their results showed that the women who received the vaccine were not at a greater risk of pregnancy complications or bad health outcomes.
“Getting the Tdap shot during pregnancy is a simple, yet effective way to provide extra protection for your baby,” says Dr. Monique Jones, obstetrician/gynecologist at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “Contracting pertussis puts young babies at great risk, yet they cannot get the vaccine until they are 2 months old. With pertussis on the rise, it is important we do all we can to keep them safe.”
When given in the third trimester of pregnancy, the vaccine creates antibodies in the mother’s body, and some of those antibodies are passed to the baby through the placenta before birth. These maternal antibodies provide short-term protection until the baby can get vaccinated.
While tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – the three diseases included in the Tdap vaccine – were once common across the U.S., and still are in parts of the world, modern vaccinations have made people significantly safer. The diseases have never been completely eradicated, and still pose a threat to many.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the best things a parent can do to protect their baby,” says Dr. Jones. “But, it’s not just mom, anyone who will spend significant time with the newborn should make sure they are up to date on their Tdap vaccinations. We call it ‘cocooning.’ They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to protect their health.”
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