Doctors Deem TDap Vaccine Safe for Pregnant Women

A vaccine that will prevent several health issues is safe for pregnant women who want to protect themselves and pass their immunity on to their babies.

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According to a new study, the TDap vaccine—which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis—is safe for pregnant women. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds that this vaccine doesn't appear to increase the risk for birth defects, including microcephaly.

Malini DeSilva, M.D., carried out this research by studying over 300,000 live births that took place between 2007 and 2013. Though she found no significant association between the vaccine's administration and birth defects, this study is part of a much larger effort to understand the risks of vaccines. This collaborative project, which is called Vaccine Safety Datalink, is led by the CDC.

 "We basically showed there is no association between receiving the TDap vaccine during pregnancy and these congenital [birth] defects," Dr. DeSilva, a clinical investigator for HealthPartners Institute, said, according to Health Day. 

The TDap vaccine has been recommended for pregnant women for the past few years during the third trimester, as it boosts their protection and may also benefit their babies, who can inherit immunity. Infants can't receive these vaccines for the first two months of life, and may have a higher risk of contracting whooping cough in that timeframe. "In between the time they're born and their 2 months' visit, they don't really have any protective antibodies other than what has passed through the placenta. There have been some studies that show there is an increased chance of passing these antibodies when the mother gets this vaccine," Dr. DeSilva said.

With nearly 20 children dying from whooping cough each year, getting this vaccine late in pregnancy—and encouraging all close family members to ensure they're up to date with their TDap—could help save lives.