Tdap Vaccine During Pregnancy Provides Some Protection To Newborns.

DENTON, TX – As Texas state health officials issue an alert urging the public, including pregnant women, to receive the Tdap vaccine, MotherToBaby North TX, a free counseling service for expectant mothers at the University of North Texas, begins fielding questions from those concerned the vaccine could impact pregnancy.

The health alert comes after officials declare pertussis, otherwise known as “whooping cough,” cases in Texas have reached epidemic levels on track to be the highest in 50 years. At least two infant deaths associated with the outbreak have been reported.

“Infants are the most at risk when it comes to pertussis,” said Lori Wolfe, MS, CGC, MotherToBaby North TX program director. “However, receiving the vaccine during pregnancy could offer some protection to newborns too young to get the vaccine themselves,” she added. Infants don’t begin the Tdap vaccination series until two months of age.

In general, vaccines that cannot give a person the disease, like Tdap, are not considered contraindicated for pregnancy, according to Wolfe. Tdap is a combination vaccine against pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus. The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends pregnant women get a dose of pertussis vaccine during every pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Pertussis has not been established to cause pregnancy problems, although it is not well studied, says Wolfe. “What’s important to point out, however, is that severe disease does have a potential concern for pregnancy. Pertussis tends to be less severe in adults than children, but can still result in adult hospitalization,” she noted.

Some symptoms of whooping cough include runny nose and coughing, which can worsen to rapid fits of coughing that create a high-pitched whooping sound.

Wolfe points out that each pregnancy is different. She recommends women consult with their doctor before receiving the vaccine as well as receive an individualized risk assessment from an expert resource, like MotherToBaby. All Texans can be connected with an expert to receive free information regarding the risks associated with vaccines, medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding through the toll-free counseling service (866) 626-6847 or online at MotherToBabyNorthTX.org.

MotherToBaby North TX is a one-stop-shop for evidence-based free counseling available to women, health care providers, and the general public. It is a service of the international non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). OTIS and its information service, MotherToBaby, are suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Media Contact: Lori Wolfe, 940-565-3892, [email protected]. Interviews in Spanish can also be arranged.