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Pertussis among infants younger than 1 year of age remains high :

January 13, 2017

The pertussis rate among infants younger than 12 months of age is high, and the incidence is highest among 3-month-olds, according to a nationwide study of 1.2 million infants.

Pertussis is the least-controlled bacterial disease for which a vaccine is universally recommended, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, limited data are available on the disease burden in U.S. infants.   

Using databases of commercial health plans around the country, researchers estimated the incidence of pertussis in infants younger than 1 year of age who were born between July 2005 and September 2010. They also sought to identify factors associated with a pertussis diagnosis by comparing each infant diagnosed with pertussis with 10 matched infants without the disease.

Results showed 1,023 infants were diagnosed with pertussis during the study period. In the two weeks before their diagnosis, infants were 18 times more likely than their matches to have been treated for a cough, seven times more likely to have a wheezing-related illness and nearly six times more likely to have an acute upper respiratory infection.

The difference in health care costs between the two groups was highest among 1- and 2-month-olds at $18,781 and $15,446, respectively.

About half of both groups had received at least one dose of diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccine prior to the date of the pertussis diagnosis in the affected infant.

“This study supports the CDC decision to protect infants from exposure to the pertussis organism by recommending a dose of reduced-antigen Tdap vaccine to each pregnant woman between 27 and 36 weeks gestation during each pregnancy and to all people with close contact with the infants, including parents, grandparents, relatives, babysitters, nannies, daycare providers, and housekeepers,” the authors wrote.

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