We are at the end of September and I couldn't neglect Infant Mortality Awareness. There are many causes of infant mortality but there are also many ways to help prevent it...learn about some programs and what you might be able to do at National Healthy Start
One such cause is pertussis, better known as whooping cough. Many people don't consider whooping cough (pertussis) as a hazard because babies are generally immunized for it along with their other well baby shots, but unfortunately there has been a dramatic rise in the number of cases of pertussis in teens 10-19 years of age and babies less than five months of age.
How this is related to infant mortality is that often old children and especially adults, will have a milder case of the infection, often with a cough without the classic whooping sound. When they come into contact with an infant or younger child who is not fully protected the infection, which is highly contagious, can spread and for them be very serious and could lead to death.
There have been cases of adults having what originally they thought was a common cold but their persistent cough would not go away, sometimes lasting for months, thus termed the “100-day cough”. They have gone through series of test and their medical practitioners have been unable to pinpoint the reason. It turns out that the cause of the cough was pertussis. It is these individuals, undiagnosed and untreated, that pose a great risk to infants.
Because of this rise in adult cases, to help protect infants and younger children the CDC is recommending that every adult 19-64 receive a dose of the pertussis vaccine. Pertussis vaccine is given in combination with tetanus and diphtheria (Tdap) which should replace one of the Td (tetanus/diphtheria) 10 year boosters. Postpartum women should speak with their physicians about the recommendations to help protect their newborns.
Once fully immunized, the Tdap vaccine provides up to 85% protection against pertussis. So if during this upcoming season you have a cough that just won't go away, speak to your doctor about pertussis.