Vaccination against pertussis for adolescents may lead to fewer infant hospitalizations, study finds

Cincinnati Children's Hospital, University of Michigan researchers examine CDC data from 2000-2005, 2008-2011

CINCINNATI — Vaccination of adolescents against whooping cough appears to result in fewer hospitalizations, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Michigan and published in the journal Pediatrics, found that hospitalizations for whooping cough, also known as pertussis, were lower than would be expected if they had not been inoculated.

"We know infants get pertussis from family members, including older siblings," lead study author and pediatrician Katherine Auger of Cincinnati Children's said. "While it is encouraging to find a modest reduction in infant hospitalizations after the vaccination of adolescents began, there were still more than 1,000 infants hospitalized for pertussis in 2011."

The study was started after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending in 2006 that all adolescents be vaccinated against pertussis; the CDC also began recommending vaccinations for pregnant women last year. The researchers used data from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 2000 to 2005 to predict hospitalization rates in the absence of the CDC's recommendation. They then examined data from 2008-2011, finding that hospitalization rates for infants were lower in three of those years. For example, without adolescent vaccinations, the 2011 hospitalization rate would be 12 per 10,000 infants, but the actual rate for that year was 3.27 per 10,000.

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