Home Health Whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy: here’s what to know

Whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy: here’s what to know

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Visits, exams, vaccinations. Pregnancy is a period as beautiful as it is full of commitments and decisions to be made for the well-being of the newborn. So here is everything you need to know about the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy, a precaution and a highly recommended vaccine for your baby’s health

The pregnancy it is a period as beautiful as it is delicate for every woman. Nine very long months, punctuated by emotions of all kinds, from visits to the many exams that it is good to do to ensure your child, and yourself, the maximum possible well-being and protection against everything that from the outside could compromise the pregnancy itself. Precisely for this reason, there are vaccinations which, if you have never had them, should be performed, as they are strongly recommended to protect the fetus from possible damage or complications, both during gestation and in the first stages of the newborn’s life. Among these, the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy it is essential to prevent the onset of the disease during the first weeks of the child’s life.

A vaccination strongly recommended during pregnancy (as well as that for rubella or chickenpox) and regardless of the age of the mother, because it is the only possibility of shielding against whooping cough for the future unborn child, who will be able to obtain his vaccination against the disease only from the 3rd month of life, risking being vulnerable and therefore subject to attack by the pathology up to that moment. But let’s see in more detail why the pertussis vaccine is important in pregnancy, when it is possible to do it and with what advantages.

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What is whooping cough and why is the pertussis vaccine important in pregnancy?

Before understanding the reasons why the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy is strongly recommended, it is good to understand what it is and what this disease entails. There whooping coughin fact, it is an infectious pathology caused by a bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, which is transmitted very rapidly by air and by direct contact with respiratory secretions (nose, mouth). A disease that is characterized by symptoms very similar to those of a common cold, such as sneezing, stuffy nose, general malaise, fatigue, cough, increased temperature, etc.

The cough, in particular, is rather insistent in whooping cough and is characterized by the presence of rapid and suffocating coughs, so much so as to make breathing difficult, to the point of causing vomiting and, especially in young children, feeding difficulties. All symptoms which, if present in a newborn, can also be very dangerous and lead to complications such as:

  • asphyxiation with related brain damage or death (1 case in 400);
  • hospitalization in about 50% of children under 1 year of age due to the development of pneumonia, respiratory distress, encephalopathy, and seizures;
  • even up to death resulting from the aforementioned diseases.

For all these reasons, therefore, it is good to take cover, e protect the future baby at least until the baby can be vaccinated directly, in the third month of life.

When to get the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy

By performing the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy, therefore, the woman produces antibodies against the Bordetella pertussispassing them to the fetus through the placenta, a shield that will protect it up to several weeks after birth.

The best time for a pregnant woman to get the pertussis vaccine is between the 27th and 32nd week of gestation (at the beginning of the last trimester). And this is because it is in this time window that the vaccine will allow the immune system of the mother to develop and share antibodies with the fetus and future newborn, protecting it from whooping cough and its complications. If this timing is not respected, it is possible that the effectiveness of the vaccine itself, and therefore its protection against the disease, will be compromised.

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How the pertussis vaccine is given in pregnancy

A very simple but very important gesture for the protection of the health of your child and which can save the life of every newborn. But how it is done specifically the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy? Just like you would for anyone else, i.e. through an iintramuscular injection localized at arm level.

During pregnancy, only one dose of pertussis vaccine is given, which is usually contained in the formulation of dTpa trivalent vaccine, which also includes anti diphtheria and anti tetanus. And which, in Italy, is recommended and offered free of charge to all pregnant women, around the 28th week.

Vaccination that must be repeated for each future pregnancy even if the mother had already been vaccinated during her youth, recalls included. And this is because the antibodies produced gradually decrease over time, and need to be reproduced in the quantity necessary to be able to protect mother and child. An important motivation but which may not remove any doubts about what to do.

Are there any related risks or effects for pregnant women who get the pertussis vaccine?

Among the many questions that revolve around vaccines, and which in particular can worry a future mother about to get vaccinated, in fact, whether this type of prevention can have unwanted or side effects it is certainly in the first places. It must therefore be said that the pertussis vaccine is first of all a drug and that, as such, it is subject to possible adverse effects just like any other type of medicine, from the mildest to the most serious ones.

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When taking the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy, therefore, it is important to know that some of the side effects that can occur are:

  • pain, swelling and redness localized at the injection site;
  • general malaise;
  • feverish alteration even if of slight extent;
  • heachache;
  • myalgia;

in addition to much rarer effects such as:

  • allergic reactions to some substance contained in the vaccine itself (but for which the vaccine is not recommended);
  • collapse.
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Pertussis vaccination, are there any side effects for the fetus?

As regards the possible adverse effects on the fetus, however, to date there are no studies that highlight problems and/or side effects affecting the future unborn child, thus resulting safe for your healthboth before and after birth.

To confirm the effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy, then, there are studies that attest that the risk of contracting the disease in the first weeks of life in children born to vaccinated mothers is reduced by 91% compared to children born to those who are not. Data that demonstrate how important it is to undergo this vaccination, the only means of protecting the newborn in its first beautiful months of life.

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