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Posts Tagged ‘baby with whooping cough’

How My Sister Helped Save My Daughter From Whooping Cough 

June 19, 2017 20 comments

TamaraSheffieldHeadShotBy Tamara Sheffield, MD, MPA, MPH, Medical Director, Community Health and Prevention, Intermountain Healthcare

In my role as a medical director at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah, I am responsible for Community Health and Prevention.  You could say that I’m a professional advocate for immunizations, since they prevent many illnesses, hospitalizations and even deaths.  In fact, maternal immunizations are one of today’s most promising new preventive health strategies.

By vaccinating pregnant women against certain diseases – like whooping cough (pertussis) and influenza – we are reducing the amount of illness, hospitalization, miscarriage and pre-term labor these women experience as a result of these diseases.

Additionally, maternal vaccines enable pregnant women to pass on protective antibodies to their unborn babies.  These antibodies provide newborns with early, short-term protection against pertussis or flu, during the time when they are too young to receive their own vaccines to prevent these diseases.

For instance, children must be six months of age before they can receive their first flu vaccination, and the DTaP vaccine, which helps prevent whooping cough in children, is administered as a series of five shots (with doses at 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years of age). Sadly, there are about 100 pediatric deaths due to influenza each year, and 90% of all deaths associated with whooping cough are among infants, mostly because the thick mucus that accompanies the infection has a severe impact on a baby’s ability to breath.

For an expectant woman, changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make them more prone to illness.  When a pregnant women gets ill, it raises her risk of complications, such as premature labor and delivery.  But research shows that mothers can help protect themselves and their babies by getting vaccinated during pregnancy.

The flu vaccine is recommended at any trimester of each pregnancy. An adult Tdap booster vaccine is recommended during each pregnancy as well – and studies show that the best time for optimal transfer of protective antibodies is at 27-to-36 weeks gestation. The ongoing research continues to indicate that these maternal immunizations are effective at reducing the number of flu and whooping cough-related illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths among infants.

The abundance of scientific evidence on this matter is one reason I am a strong advocate for maternal vaccinations.  However, I have a very personal reason to advocate for maternal vaccinations as well.

You see, I know an amazing 25-year-old young woman who nearly died from whooping cough when she was just three weeks old. 

Alicia Outside ICU at Phoenix Childrens' Hospital

Like many infants who suffer with whooping cough, this beautiful baby girl contracted it from a family member.  During the weeks before delivery, her mother developed a persistent cough that went undiagnosed, and she unknowingly passed whooping cough on to her baby.  Three weeks later, after a couple of incidents where the baby stopped breathing and turned blue, her parents rushed her to the hospital. Read more…

Pertussis Vaccine in Pregnancy Key to Preventing Disease in Infants

Pregnant women should be vaccinated against pertussis during each pregnancy to best protect babies from infection.

PertussisThe Global Pertussis Initiative (GPI), an expert scientific forum charged with addressing the global burden of pertussis, announced this recommendation earlier this week.  However, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this suggestion.  The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) first recommended that women get a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy in October of 2011.  Then, in October of 2012, they updated the recommendation stating that women should get a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy.

As the GPI decision explained in a recent Medscape article,

Vaccination of women with Tdap during pregnancy is expected to provide some protection to infants from pertussis until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves. Tdap given to pregnant women will stimulate the development of maternal antipertussis antibodies, which will pass through the placenta, likely providing the newborn with protection against pertussis in early life, and will protect the mother from pertussis around the time of delivery, making her less likely to become infected and transmit pertussis to her infant.   

While this excerpt may suggest the basis behind the GPI’s recommendation, the ACIP’s decision was further referenced in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published in February, 2012, which explained, Read more…

Every Child By Two Parent Advocate Receives Childhood Immunization Champion Award

April 20, 2015 2 comments

Each year I look over the list of Childhood Immunization Champion Award winners and I am truly inspired. 

During National Infant Immunization Week (April 18-25, 2015) the CDC and the CDC Foundation recognizes “Champions” from every state.  While the Champions are often public health professionals, doctors and nurses, being selected as a Champion isn’t just about doing your job.champ-award

Being a Champion requires an extraordinary effort.  It’s about going above and beyond.  And it’s about promoting childhood immunizations in a way that exemplifies a commitment to change, even in the face of adversity or resistance.

IN-TornhoutThis year I’m proud to say that I know a true Champion, and she is a parent advocate just like many of you.  The truth is that Katie Van Tornhout didn’t need a formal award to be considered a Champion in my eyes, but I’m thrilled to know that her passion and commitment are being recognized by people who devote their entire professional lives to promoting childhood immunizations.

callie_van_tornhoutI came to know Katie in a very unfortunate way.  After five years and four miscarriages, Katie and Craig Van Tornhout celebrated the birth of their daughter Callie in 2010.   Although their baby arrived a few weeks early, she was truly a miracle.  Despite the fact that they had barely left the house with Callie after her birth, their joy quickly turned to grief when a disease called pertussis, also known as whooping cough, claimed her life at just 38 days old.

It is in these challenging moments of adversity that we are often tested, and yet it was through the pain and sorrow of their loss that the Van Tornhouts – along with their angel Callie – have become forceful agents of change.  Since losing her daughter, Katie has been determined to spare other children from pertussis and prevent other parents from suffering a similar tragedy. Read more…

I’m a Pediatrician and I Gave My Daughter Pertussis

March 26, 2015 66 comments

By, Rebecca Bakke MD, FAAP

As a pediatrician, I am often asked the question, “What would you do if she was your child?”

I B (32)always try to answer this question as honestly as I can.  Sometimes, when the answer is not very straightforward, l can say sincerely, “I don’t know. “ Other times, such as when parents have concerns about immunizations, the answer is easy.

Vaccination is one of the most polarizing issues in our country, and because I immunize infants and children every single day at work, the controversy frequently makes its way into my office. Anxious first-time parents cradle their newborn babies while nervously reviewing the vaccine schedule, then look up at me and ask what I think about delaying vaccines, trying an alternate vaccine schedule or forgoing them all together.

What would you do if she was your child?” 

Parents are not usually surprised when I say that I vaccinate all three of my children according to the recommended CDC schedule. They expect that as a pediatrician, I have seen the horrors of vaccine-preventable disease and believe in the ability of vaccines to prevent these now rare illnesses.  This is, of course, true. They are usually quite surprised, however, when I tell them that my most significant experience with vaccine preventable disease happened not while I was working as a doctor, but as a first-time parent.

IMG_2769My first pregnancy was gloriously uneventful, and I was full of the joyous anticipation and occasional irrational terror that most first-time mothers share.  I followed all the rules. I took my prenatal vitamins, avoided sushi, cut back on caffeine and made a special effort to get adequate sleep and exercise. I spent hours online reading reviews on strollers, car seats and cribs. I was pregnant during the 2009-2010 H1N1 (“swine flu”) epidemic, and I was terrified of the toll the disease could take on my unborn baby and me.  I even cared for babies in the NICU who were born far too early because their mothers became critically ill from influenza while pregnant. I spent months wearing a mask at work, and I stood in line at the Department of Health to get the H1N1 vaccine just one day before it was available from Employee Health at my hospital.

IMG_3039Claire Noelle was born on a snowy January morning, and I remember being overwhelmed by the instantaneous love and devotion I felt for this tiny baby I had only just met. We took her home the next day, and like most new parents, spent the first several weeks of her life gazing at her and relishing in every sweet newborn expression, sigh and sneeze.

When Claire was 5 weeks old and just starting to smile, she started coughing. Initially, it was only after I nursed her, and I thought it was reflux. But when the coughing worsened, I panicked.  I reflected on the fact that I was recovering from a mild cold when Claire was born, and had been coughing ever since.  My cough was nothing remarkable, but Claire’s cough was starting to sound an awful lot like pertussis (whooping cough).  We took her to the pediatrician. The next day he called and confirmed my fear: Claire had pertussis.

The next three weeks were the darkest of my life. Antibiotic treatment for pertussis prevents the spread of the disease, but after the coughing starts no medication can alter the disease course. If you have ever seen a child with pertussis you know why it is called whooping cough. Infants and children have such long coughing spells that they cough until their lungs are completely out of breath, then they inhale desperately (“whoop”) before the coughing fits start again.

Claire would cough cough cough cough cough and whoop, cough cough cough cough cough and whoop for an hour straight several times per day. 

She coughed until her lips turned blue. 

She coughed until she vomited so many times that she lost weight. 

The coughing completely and violently took over her precious 9 pound body. 

Infants with pertussis, especially infants as young as Claire was, are at high risk for complications.  

The coughing fits can lead to bleeding in the brain.

They can get pneumonia.

They can have periods of apnea, where they stop breathing.

Many end up on a ventilator.

One to two percent of infants with pertussis die.

I knew these things, and I was terrified. But nobody could stop the coughing.

IMG_0058Claire was fortunate. We were fortunate. She recovered without any complications. But dozens of infants born in 2010, including at least one infant in our community, died of whooping cough. Many of these babies were too young to be vaccinated. So was Claire.

But I was not. While I was pregnant, I spent a whole lot of time researching strollers, but failed to take any time to get a vaccine that could have prevented my baby from getting a life threatening illness. And I am a pediatrician. I, of all people, should have known better.  Because of this, it is now part of my mission to make sure that the families that I take care of do know better.

Today, all expectant women should be vaccinated with Tdap during every pregnancy, preferably in the third trimester (between the 27th and 36th week). By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, mothers build antibodies that are transferred to the newborn, providing protection against pertussis before the baby can get their first dose of DTaP vaccine at 2 months old. Tdap vaccine also protects mothers during delivery, which makes them less likely to transmit pertussis to their babies. This recommendation is not only supported by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but also by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What would I do if she was my child?

I would vaccinate.

For more information, visit these special CDC webpages dedicated to whooping cough information for pregnant women and healthcare providers here.
About the author:  Rebecca Bakke MD, FAAP is a pediatrician at Sanford Health and a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. She lives in Fargo, ND with her husband and three young children.

Amanda Peet Encourages Vaccines During Pregnancy to Protect Infants

March 7, 2015 2 comments
Photo Credit: FayesVision / WENN

Amanda and her husband welcomed their third child, Henry, back in December, 2014.  Photo Credit: FayesVision / WENN

Being a mom to Molly and Frankie is, without a doubt, the most rewarding role I’ve ever had.  As we prepared to welcome another baby into our home this fall, I was reminded of just how fragile and precious a newborn can be.

In recent interviews with Fox News and CNN, I shared my concerns over the growing number of unvaccinated children in the area where we live. It frightens me to think that my baby may possibly be exposed to a dangerous and life-threatening disease before he is old enough to be vaccinated himself. It seems unfair that while I do everything in my power to protect this delicate new life, others are making a choice that puts my child at serious risk.

I have real reason to worry. When my second daughter Molly was just 10 months old she contracted whooping cough (also known as pertussis). As any parent can relate, it’s scary when your child gets sick, but it’s especially upsetting when you realize that your child is part of the largest outbreak of whooping cough in over fifty years. As an advocate for Every Child By Two’s Vaccinate Your Baby initiative, I was all too aware of the fact that whooping cough can be deadly for infants, and yet here we were facing that terrible diagnosis. We were incredibly fortunate that Molly fully recovered, but I’ll admit that I was completely rattled by the experience.

Fortunately, since that time, scientists have been closely examining the possible causes for the large number of whooping cough cases over the past few years and have made recommendations aimed at curbing the outbreaks. Part of the problem is that the immunity against the disease is wearing off so that people throughout the U.S. are less immune to whooping cough. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for infants to receive all five recommended doses of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine, followed by the booster shot of the adult version of the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 11 or 12 years old.  It’s staggering to note that 83% of infants who are diagnosed with whooping cough got it from a family member, most often their own parents. Therefore, adults need to make sure they get a Tdap booster before a new baby arrives to protect themselves and to stop the spread of the disease to infants, who are most likely to become seriously ill from the disease.

Most important for newborns, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices took a good hard look at the pertussis research and concluded that we can best protect newborns by ensuring that pregnant women receive an adult Tdap booster in their last trimester of each pregnancy. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, not only was I protected, but antibodies were transferred to my baby through the placenta, providing my baby with protection against pertussis before he could start getting DTaP vaccine at two months of age. So I followed my doctor’s advice and not only received the Tdap vaccine during my last trimester, but I also got a flu shot.

Just as I have the ability to protect my newborn from pertussis, I also have the ability to protect him and other members of my family from influenza. I’ve learned that due to changes in a pregnant woman’s immune system, heart and lungs, I was more prone to serious complications from the flu such as pre-term labor and delivery, hospitalization and even death. And, since children can’t be vaccinated against the flu before six months of age, everyone in our family must do all we can to protect our baby boy.  With my child being born in the midst of flu season, I wanted to do everything I could to protect him from a disease that causes more than 20,000 children under the age of five to be hospitalized each year.  I find it upsetting to learn that with all the medical resources available to us here in the U.S., last year’s flu season claimed the lives of 109 precious children.

I’ll admit that as a parent I’m concerned about the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially as a result of people choosing not to vaccinate. But I refuse to stand by and watch as others put my children’s health at risk. By getting the flu and pertussis vaccines during my pregnancy, I felt empowered that I could do something positive to protect my child. And you can too.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about vaccines. In addition, encourage your friends and family to utilize the resources provided by reputable organizations, such as Every Child By Two and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  And be sure to immunize yourself and your entire family.

Mother’s Facebook Updates Detail Son’s Tragic Death from Pertussis

January 28, 2014 35 comments

BradysMemoryBrady was born on November 20, 2011 and weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs., 6 oz.  His parents, Jon and Kathy, thought they were taking every precaution to protect their baby.  They even insisted that friends and family wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they were permitted to pick him up.  What they didn’t realize was that these actions wouldn’t be enough to protect their precious son from a dangerous disease called pertussis.

Since infants don’t begin receiving vaccinations for pertussis (also known as whooping cough) until they are two months old, they remain vulnerable to this highly contagious disease at a time when they are most fragile.  Today we share Brady’s battle in the same way that his mother did; through her Facebook status updates.  This small glimpse into one family’s heartbreak reminds us of how fragile a young life can be and highlights how important adult pertussis boosters are in sparing others from suffering and possibly even death.

In early January, Brady’s parents suspected that he was coming down with a cold.  When his fever spiked to 104 they brought him to the ER where he was subjected to a multitude of tests, but ultimately sent home where they continued to monitor his condition.  

Brady’s mother Kathy kept her friends and family updated on Brady’s condition through her personal Facebook posts.

January 9 : I hate when one of my babies are sick. Had to go to the ER on sat/sun morning because of a high temp. They ran tests and everything came back negative, thank god! Went to his pedi today. Got more blood work. It’s just a cold, no medicine. Thankfully he is fine! Hope my little guy gets better soon :(

January 11: Went to the pedi office this morning with my Brady pants. His breathing was worrying us. We have to do updraft treatments every few hours and go back for 6 to see the md. Poor little guy :(

January 15 : Home. My sis is here, bought us a humidifier for Brady for Christmas.  Hopefully it will help with his horrible cough! When will this end? Its horrible having him so sick :(

One week later, Jon and Kathy were back at the hospital with Brady.  While the staff worked diligently to help Brady, his condition was constantly changing and the uncertainty was extremely stressful. Read more…

Share This Special Valentine

February 14, 2013 176 comments

It’s Valentine’s Day!  A day when we send flowers, give chocolate and share kisses.  And who doesn’t love to kiss the sweet, soft skin of a precious little baby?

BUT WAIT!

Let’s remember…NO KISSES!  

(Unless – of course – everyone is up to date on their Tdap boosters.)

See, those kisses can be deadly to little babies if they spread whooping cough.  So, for Valentine’s Day this year, don’t just show your love with flowers and chocolate.  If you really want to show how much you care, share this colorful infographic from the CDC.  It shows the three important steps that expectant parents can take to give their babies the best protection from whooping cough, including the recent recommendation that pregnant women get a Tdap shot during every pregnancy. Read more…