SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Infant pertussis rates drop after widespread vaccinations

Fewer infants are hospitalized for treatment of the respiratory infection pertussis each year due to widespread vaccinations administered to adults and adolescents, researchers announced on Monday.

Pediatricians at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and researchers at the University of Michigan found that inoculating adults and adolescents in greater numbers over the last seven years has stymied the pertussis epidemic among infants.

"We know infants get pertussis from family members, including older siblings," Cincinnati Children's Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Katherine Auger said. "While it is encouraging to find a modest reduction in infant hospitalizations after the vaccination of adolescents began, there were still more than 1,000 infants hospitalized for pertussis in 2011. Expecting parents should discuss with their doctors the need for vaccination of all caregivers before the birth of a baby."

The CDC suggested widespread pertussis vaccinations in 2006. Since then, researchers have used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database to measure the vaccinations' effectiveness in preventing infant pertussis infections.

In three of four years analyzed by researchers, fewer infants were hospitalized than expected. In 2011, it was expected that 12 in 10,000 infants would be hospitalized. The actual rate, however, fell to 3.27 in 10,000 infants hospitalized.

Future studies will be required to understand the longer-term affects that pertussis vaccinations have on infant hospitalization rates.