Pertussis

Evidence is lacking that ‘cocooning’ prevents whooping cough in newborns

family visiting newborn baby
The cocooning strategy, in which people who will be in contact with a newborn all receive vaccinations to protect the vulnerable baby, may not be that protective after all. Better protection against whooping cough comes from vaccinating a mother during pregnancy, scientists say.

THE HERD

Last week, I wrote about how powerfully protective whooping cough vaccines can be when babies receive their first dose before even being born, from their pregnant mothers-to-be. As I was looking through that study, another of its findings struck me: Babies didn’t seem to get any extra whooping cough protection when their moms were vaccinated after giving birth.

I wondered if this meant that I was unreasonable when I insisted my parents be fully boosted before visiting their first granddaughter. If post-birth vaccinations aren’t that important for mothers, who are entwined in every way imaginable with their newborns, is it likely that grandparents’ vaccination status is all that important?

The practice of making sure people who come into contact with a vulnerable newborn are up on their shots is called “cocooning.” The idea is based on straight-ahead logic: By eliminating dangerous germs from those people, the newborn is protected. She can’t catch what isn’t there.

While it’s a good idea to make sure everyone is current on vaccines, the evidence for cocooning as a way to keep infants healthy has been lacking. “I…

Vaccinating pregnant women protects newborns from whooping cough

pregnant woman getting a vaccine
A Tdap vaccine during pregnancy led to fewer newborns getting whooping cough in the two months after birth, a large study found.

When I was pregnant, my pronoun shifted automatically. My “I” turned into “we,” as in, “What are we going to eat for dinner?” and, “Should we sit in that hot tub?” I thought about that shift to the majestic plural as we got our Tdap shot in our third trimester.

The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough. Doctors recommend that women receive a dose with each pregnancy because the diseases can be particularly dangerous for young babies. But good, hard evidence for the benefits of vaccinating women while pregnant instead of shortly after giving birth has been lacking. A new study of nearly 150,000 newborns fills that gap for whooping cough.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif., studied the medical records of mothers who gave birth to babies between 2010 and 2015. Overall, about 46 percent of the mothers received a Tdap vaccine at least 8 days before giving birth.

Seventeen of the 150,000 babies got whooping cough by the time…

Vaccinating pregnant women protects newborns from whooping cough

pregnant woman getting a vaccine
A Tdap vaccine during pregnancy led to fewer newborns getting whooping cough in the two months after birth, a large study found.

When I was pregnant, my pronoun shifted automatically. My “I” turned into “we,” as in, “What are we going to eat for dinner?” and, “Should we sit in that hot tub?” I thought about that shift to the majestic plural as we got our Tdap shot in our third trimester.

The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough. Doctors recommend that women receive a dose with each pregnancy because the diseases can be particularly dangerous for young babies. But good, hard evidence for the benefits of vaccinating women while pregnant instead of shortly after giving birth has been lacking. A new study of nearly 150,000 newborns fills that gap for whooping cough.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif., studied the medical records of mothers who gave birth to babies between 2010 and 2015. Overall, about 46 percent of the mothers received a Tdap vaccine at least 8 days before giving birth.

Seventeen of the 150,000 babies got whooping cough by the time…