Preventing Pertussis in Newborns with Tdap During Pregnancy

This article is based on the immunizations webinar, “Transplacental Partnerships: Immunity Building During Pregnancy and Beyond,” presented on May 22, 2018, by Dr Elias Kass, which is available for viewing via the Washington State Department of Health (with free continuing medical education credit available for those who qualify, through December 31, 2018). Hopefully this format is a bit more accessible for sharing than an hour-long webinar! Pertussis (whooping cough) When we’re talking about the Tdap vaccine in pregnancy, we are talking about our urgent desire to prevent pertussis in newborns. Pertussis is caused by a bacteria, Bordetella pertussis. It’s spread by respiratory droplets which are formed and propelled into the air during the long spasms of coughing. After the next victim inhales the droplets, the bacteria adhere to cells lining the nose, throat and upper respiratory tract. Once attached, the bacteria cause local tissue damage via several toxins (including tracheal cytotoxin, dermonecrotic toxin, and adenylate cyclase). This destructive process, with loss of the protective respiratory cells, is likely responsible for the cough. It’s also why pertussis is so difficult to treat: antibiotics can kill the bacteria and stop the spread to other people, but the damage done to the respiratory … Continue reading Preventing Pertussis in Newborns with Tdap During Pregnancy