Tdap vaccine safe for mother and fetus, study finds

Posted at 6:26 PM, Nov 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-02 18:26:49-04

A review of over 300,000 live births shows the Tdap vaccine, which is tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, is safe for pregnant women. The study found no association between the vaccine and birth defects or other major health problems for the unborn baby.

Studies have shown an increased chance of passing protective antibodies through the mother’s placenta to her unborn child. The Tdap is recommended for unvaccinated pregnant women because babies can’t receive the vaccine until they’re two months old. And there’s a high risk of them contracting pertussis, more commonly known as the whooping cough. 

Pertussis is a potentially fatal condition that causes uncontrollable violent coughing spells followed by a high-pitched breath that sounds like a "whoop." It’s caused by bacteria and can interfere with breathing and may last for 10 weeks or more. It can cause pneumonia, bronchitis, seizures, brain damage and death.

Pertussis is a highly contagious and in 2012 there were 48,277 reported cases of it. To protect yourself and your loved ones, here are Dr. Nandi's prescriptions:

1. Get vaccinated. There are vaccinations for babies, children and for pregnant women and adults.

2. Everyone in contact with babies should also be vaccinated. Vaccinated people can still get the whooping cough, but it’s typically not as serious.

3. Know the signs of whooping cough. It starts like a common cold but changes to severe coughing after 1-2 weeks.

4. If you’re concerned, see your doctor. He or she can diagnose you and prescribe medication.

Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria and help prevent infected people from spreading the disease. But not much can be done to relive the cough, as over-the-counter cough medicines have little effect.