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To prevent whooping cough in newborns, vaccinate pregnant moms

Vaccinating pregnant women against whooping cough is the best way to protect their newborns from respiratory infections that can prove fatal, according to new recommendations from the Global Pertussis Initiative (GPI).

If inoculation during pregnancy isn’t feasible, the next best option is vaccinating immediate family members, caregivers and other people who regularly come in close contact with infants, according to the GPI, a group of scientists focused on eradicating whooping cough.

“Pertussis infection in small infants is particularly devastating,” Dr. Kevin Forsyth, lead author of the guidelines, said in an email. In addition to intense, uncontrollable coughing fits caused by the lung disease, it can also lead to potentially fatal side effects like septic shock and suffocation, he said.