Whooping Cough Outbreak is Back

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Our Saturday green news brings you the latest on health, parenting and cool baby and kid products:

whooping cough, Pertussis bacteria, child immunizations

Pertussis bacteria, courtesy of Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr

  • Whooping cough outbreak is back: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  California is again in the middle of a whooping cough outbreak, and a far worse one than back in 2010. As of November 26, nearly ten thousand cases of whooping cough were reported. As Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee stated: “The last time a series of outbreaks occurred across the country, California started the parade. And so this is a harbinger we are fearful of.” Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is caused by bacteria and considered cyclical because cases peak every three to five years. It’s especially dangerous to infants, who are more susceptible to catching it. According to the CDC’s data, about 50 percent of all children under one year of age who contract the bacteria need to be hospitalized, and up to 2 percent of them die. “Whooping cough vaccine was developed in the 1940s and is very effective, but developed a sour reputation for side effects, including high fever, swelling of the lymph nodes and others. So scientists developed a new vaccine that was lumped in with the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines to make TDaP. The new vaccine effectively prevents whooping cough but its effectiveness weakens over about 5 years, making the population more vulnerable to the bacteria’s cyclical nature without regular boosters,” Schaffner added. Since children aren’t due for their whooping cough vaccine ( TDaP) until 2 months of age, the CDC recommends pregnant women to get vaccinated so they can pass along the immunity to their unborn children. However, many doctors don’t inform pregnant women about this option. For more information about vaccine-preventable diseases, check out Every Child by Two, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about them.
  • Dropping birthrate creates economic concerns: According to recent report by The National Center for Health Statistics, the birthrate in the U.S. is very low, which worries economists. If a slow economy is bad news for the birth rate, it also works the other way: declining fertility and birth rates are bad for the economy since they soon cause smaller labor base and therefore weaker social security, and other consequences. Based on the report, there were only 3.9 million births in the U.S. in 2013, down about 1% from 2012. The general fertility rate also declined 1% in 2013 to another record low: 62.5 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. According to the report, the birth numbers have been in decline for six straight years, dropping 9% from its peak in 2007.
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