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Why is whooping cough dangerous for infants?

Infants are particularly vulnerable to whooping cough for a number of reasons. As UCLA pediatric infectious-disease specialist James Cherry, MD, explains, "Infants can’t get their first vaccination until they are at least 6 weeks old, and they do not have adequate protection until about 7 months of age, after they have received three doses of vaccine. But beyond that, pertussis, the bacteria that causes the illness, in the first 3 months of life tends to be particularly severe. Because it often starts as a mild illness with little or no fever, it’s easy for parents to have a false sense of security. Too often, doctors don’t recognize pertussis until it has progressed, by which time it escalates rapidly, almost always requiring hospitalization for babies, and sometimes proving fatal."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.