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Newborn babies at Risk

11/9/2012

Everyone is so excited to hold a new baby, to pass them around and ogle their cute little fingers and toes, watch them smile, and give them kisses.  Grandparents can’t wait to show them off to friends, and parents never seem to lack a trail of people wanting to see and hold their newborn.  However, what if, one of these anxious spectators had a disease?  What if that disease has shown to affect babies the most, with 90% of its death rate being of those four months of life or younger?  What would you be willing to do to protect your child?  Hide them away and refuse all visitors?  Grandparents, neighbors, friends, and family, you must watch from the window, no holding allowed!  What if you had the power to protect your child, grandchild, friend, neighbor…all newborns? 

You do, each person holds the power to choose to receive the pertussis vaccination so you can know you aren’t passing on a deadly disease.

What are we talking about?  Pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease.   For babies, it makes their breathing very difficult and at times they turn blue.  It has been making a comeback, with more than a 100% increase during 2004-2007 when compared to 2000-2003, with an estimated 800,000-3.3 million cases each year.  This is a highly contagious disease that is potentially fatal to infants.  Researchers found that up to 80% of infants with pertussis, contracted it from unvaccinated family members!  It is spread by droplets from a cough, sneeze, whisper of sweet nothings or hands and surfaces in contact with these droplets. 

Adults and children routinely receive vaccinations for this disease, however the protective effects of the medication only last for 5-10 years and then you can catch and pass on pertussis after this time.  In addition, many providers stopped giving the pertussis vaccination in combination with the tetanus shot because it was believed the disease was gone.  And…to be honest there so some of us who don’t like shots, so we avoid immunization updates until absolutely necessary (leaving all nearby infants in harms ways).  So, many adults and children have the potential to pass pertussis on to the babies without even knowing it.  Infants themselves receive pertussis vaccinations in combination with their tetanus shots, however they don’t get this shot until they are two months of age and often aren’t immune until they have received the third dose, which can 6 months to one year of age, leaving them vulnerable to catching whooping cough for many months.

So again, we are back to you, and the power you hold to choose.  For the sake of babies in our families, neighborhoods, churches, communities; those we don’t even know; ask your medical provider or clinic if you are current with your pertussis vaccination.  If not, get immunized and tell your family and friends.  

Each person holds the power to save the life of a baby, again making your arms the safest place a child can be.

For more information, or to hear what pertussis sounds like, please go to www.SoundsofPertussis.com.  

Article references from a public service announcement from Sanoti Pasteur Inc. 6/10.

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