The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. This vaccine protects against pertussis (also called whooping cough). Pertussis spreads quickly and is dangerous for your baby.
In a new study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that receiving the Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy prevented more than 78% of cases of whooping cough in babies younger than two months. The CDC has recommended pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine since 2012, but these findings confirm that the vaccine is not only beneficial, but incredibly important in order to protect your baby after birth.
The study looked at babies younger than two months old from six states from 2011 through 2014. They learned that the mothers of babies who had whooping cough were less likely to have received the Tdap vaccine during their pregnancy.
Although these findings show how effective getting Tdap during pregnancy can be, researchers also found that only 49% of pregnant woman who had a baby between fall 2015 and spring 2016 received the vaccine.
Why are these results so important?
So far in 2017 there have been more than 11,000 cases of whooping cough in the U.S. Whooping cough is a serious disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe. Babies younger than one year of age are at the highest risk for severe complications, hospitalization or death.
Babies don’t receive their own whooping cough vaccine until two months of age. But if a pregnant woman gets vaccinated during the third trimester of pregnancy (between 27 and 36 weeks) she can pass her antibodies on to her baby and provide protection during these first two months. This study confirms that vaccination with the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy can prevent whooping cough in babies before they are able to receive their own vaccine.
If you’re pregnant, make sure you ask your prenatal care provider about when to schedule your Tdap vaccine so that you can protect your baby.
To see when it’s time for your baby’s whooping cough vaccine (and other immunizations), see our vaccination schedule.