Concern over whooping cough in newborns

GPs are seeing an increased incidence of whooping cough among newborn babies, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. It is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which can make it difficult to breathe.

After a bout of coughing, someone with pertussis often needs to take in a deep breath which results in a 'whooping' sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in young babies.
Pregnant women can protect their unborn babies from the condition by getting vaccinated.

In recent weeks, the HSE has acknowledged an increased incidence of whooping cough in the Longford area. According to Longford-based GP, Dr Padraig McGarry, who is chairman of the IMO GP Committee, the illness is ‘highly contagious and incredibly distressing for both baby and mother'.

"The consequences for a young baby can be very serious, even fatal. We have noticed an increase in the number of mothers bringing young babies to the surgery with this condition and some other colleagues are reporting similar experiences in different parts of the country," he noted.

Dr McGarry urged pregnant women to consider getting vaccinated by their own GPs. However, he also said that the HSE should include the vaccine as part of the Mother and Infant Prenatal Scheme, as this would make it easier for expectant mothers to protect their unborn babies.

"The best way to encourage greater up take of this vaccine is by including it in the Mother and Infant Prenatal Scheme. However even before that happens, we would encourage expectant mums to consider getting the vaccine from their own GPs directly. The optimal time to receive the vaccine is between 16 and 36 weeks gestation," Dr McGarry added.

For more information on whooping cough and the vaccine, click here


[Posted: Tue 28/11/2017]

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