Previously, mothers were considered the most common source of infection. But a new study reveals that siblings are mostly transferring whooping cough to their infant brother or sister.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is an infectious disease that is characterized by severe coughing, followed by the sound of “Whoop” with every breath taken inside.
Historically, mothers were considered the main source of transmission, but a recent study suggests that it is in fact the siblings who are more transferring whooping cough to their infant brother/sister rather than mothers.
A total of 1,306 infants were examined fort the study. The source of infection was identified in more than half of the infants. More than 66% of the time, the source was a close family member, 35% siblings, 20% mothers and 10% fathers.
The findings are contradictory to what has been cited in earlier studies. Now, the most common source of whooping cough in infants is siblings instead of their moms.
Whooping cough is one of the leading causes of deaths in infants worldwide. Every year, there is an estimated 16 million pertussis cases reported and about 195,000 children die due to the disease, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Deaths usually occur when infants either remain unvaccinated or receive incomplete vaccine.
Infants face higher risk of severe illness or deaths before two months of age. That is the recommended time to start a series of vaccinations against the disease. By age 6, it is suggested to intake five vaccine doses while additional doses are needed at the age of 11 or 12 and in adulthood as well.
The impact of the vaccine is not long-lasting. “The shots provide protection for a few years and although effectiveness tends to wear off, kids should continue to get vaccinated.” Tami Skoff, lead author of the study said.
The study also suggests that until more long-lasting vaccine is not developed, the ratio of vaccination in pregnant women should be increased. Currently, only 15 to 20% pregnant women are getting whooping cough shots in United States and are causing to transfer the infection with the childbirth. The strategy can help prevent infants from catching whooping cough to great extent.
“The benefits of maternal vaccination during pregnancy are two-fold: protect both the mom and the infant.” Skoff said.
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The study was published in Journal Pediatrics.