Why is whooping cough dangerous for infants?

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UCLA Health
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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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Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough

If your child experiences uncontrollable coughing that makes it difficult for them to breathe, talk to your doctor about whooping cough. Thousands of people yearly become ill with whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, ...

and some are hospitalized. This highly contagious illness can be very dangerous, and even deadly, in young infants. Thankfully, vaccines have helped to reduce the spread of whooping cough, although current vaccines are not 100% effective against this illness. If your child contracts this bacterial respiratory infection he or she will most likely be treated with antibiotics. To protect your children against whooping cough, talk to your doctor about vaccination
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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.