Research Led by Dr. Annette Regan of the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions Shows the Success of Maternal Pertussis Vaccination in Preventing Pertussis in Infants

SAN FRANCISCO (October 11, 2023) – Dr. Annette Regan, University of San Francisco (USF) School of Nursing and Health Professions (SONHP) professor, has shared a newly published pediatrics study titled “Maternal Pertussis Vaccination, Infant Immunization, and Risk of Pertussis”, published in the November 2023 issue of Pediatrics, a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Pertussis is a terrible disease that threatens the health of infants and young children, and we are fortunate to have tools such as vaccines available to us to prevent this illness,” said Eileen Fry-Bowers, dean of the USF School of Nursing and Health Professions “Dr. Regan’s research clearly demonstrates the benefits of receiving a pertussis vaccine during pregnancy. We are proud to support this research, which will change the health of our communities in the Bay Area and beyond.” 

The study analyzed the effect of the pertussis vaccine (also known as DTaP vaccine) when given during pregnancy. Pertussis, or ‘whooping cough’, is a highly contagious and potentially severe respiratory illness, and infants account for 70%-90% of all pertussis-attributable hospitalizations and deaths. The study led by Dr. Regan showed that pertussis vaccination during pregnancy prevented 65% of pertussis infections in infants through six months of age. The study reviewed data on 279,418 infants born to 252,444 mothers in Australia, approximately 52% of whom received the vaccine through a maternal pertussis vaccination program. The study also sought to clarify the duration of protection, the importance of gestational age at vaccination, and the potential effects on an infant’s immune response to vaccinations for pertussis and other diseases after birth. Researchers found that the maternal pertussis vaccine might lower the effectiveness of an infant’s third DTaP vaccine (diptheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-containing vaccine), but they did not observe evidence of higher rates of pertussis infection in those infants through 18 months of age. 

“We are pleased to share these research findings with the community,” shared Dr. Regan. “Our goal is to provide reliable information to help parents make decisions about vaccines. Our study showed that receiving a pertussis vaccine during pregnancy protects babies against a life-threatening disease. Pertussis vaccine is recommended during every pregnancy, and we hope this information helps families make vaccine decisions during their next pregnancy.”

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