Having a baby changes the life of every parent as they begin a new journey filled not only with excitement, but also great responsibility. One of the most important goals of any parent is to keep their baby healthy and safe. But what if there’s something parents didn’t know they should be doing? What if it could mean the difference between life and death? No parent should ever have to experience the tragedy of losing an infant or watching them struggle for their next breath, or worse yet, be the unknowing cause of that devastation.
As a parent, I have done my research in order to make informed decisions about my health and the well-being of my children. America is experiencing a resurgence of pertussis, with more cases reported in the last 10 years than the prior 40 years combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is so important for us as parents to know what we can do to help protect ourselves and our babies from this highly contagious and often serious disease. In adolescents and adults, it usually presents as a severe cough that may last for weeks or even months and the milder form is often mistaken for the common cold or bronchitis. But what’s especially concerning is that pertussis can be easily spread and in babies it can be potentially fatal. I knew I needed to take action after learning that researchers found that when it could be determined how an infant caught pertussis, family members were responsible for spreading the disease to the baby in up to 80 percent of cases.1 More specifically, parents were responsible up to 50 percent of the time.2