FDA OKs Tdap shot in pregnancy to protect newborns from pertussis


The Food and Drug Administration has approved another Tdap vaccine option for use during pregnancy to protect newborns from whooping cough.

The agency on Jan. 9 licensed Adacel (Sanofi Pasteur) for immunization during the third trimester to prevent pertussis in infants younger than 2 months old.

The FDA in October approved a different Tdap vaccine, Boostrix (GlaxoSmithKline), for this indication. Boostrix was the first vaccine specifically approved to prevent a disease in newborns whose mothers receive the vaccine while pregnant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that women receive a dose of Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably during gestational weeks 27-36 – and ideally toward the earlier end of that window – to help protect babies from whooping cough, the respiratory tract infection caused by Bordetella pertussis.

Providing a Tdap vaccine – tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine, adsorbed – in the third trimester confers passive immunity to the baby, according to the CDC. It also reduces the likelihood that the mother will get pertussis and pass it on to the infant.

One study found that providing Tdap vaccination during gestational weeks 27-36 was 85% more effective at preventing pertussis in infants younger than 2 months old, compared with providing Tdap vaccination to mothers in the hospital postpartum.

“On average, about 1,000 infants are hospitalized and typically between 5 and 15 infants die each year in the United States due to pertussis,” according to a CDC reference page. “Most of these deaths are among infants who are too young to be protected by the childhood pertussis vaccine series that starts when infants are 2 months old.”

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