Topic: Uncategorized

Whooping Cough

One of the most heartbreaking things to witness is a tiny baby wracked with whooping cough. Watching their fragile little bodies struggle for air is truly horrific, and certainly brings home how important it is to be vigilant with vaccinations and taking proper precautions to ensure that this awful infection is not spread.

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough, or pertussis as it is medically known, is an infection that causes severe cough and is easily spread from person to person. Whooping cough gets its name from the “whoop” sound people make when they breathe in after a coughing attack. Generally, most people get childhood vaccinations to prevent whooping cough. It is recommended by doctors that babies and young children get five doses of the vaccine, and pregnant women should get one dose during each pregnancy. It is extremely important that adults who are around newborn babies get the vaccine, as babies are particularly at risk to whooping cough before they get all of their vaccine doses.

Whooping cough symptoms

Early whooping cough symptoms include
• Sneezing
• Runny or stuffy nose
• General cold symptoms
• Mild cough

After 1-2 weeks
• Worsening cough, with severe coughing attacks
• Gagging, choking, or breathing trouble during coughing attacks
• Vomiting during coughing attacks

If you, or your child has whooping cough and experiences the following
• High fever
• Vomiting constantly
• Dehydration
Seek medical assistance immediately, and notify any medical workers that you or your child has whooping cough so they can avoid further infection.

After 2-6 weeks
• Gradual resolution of cough, though this can take months to go away completely

How is whooping cough treated?

Whooping cough is usually treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. The medications used to treat whooping cough vary depending on a person’s age, and persons living with those infected by whooping cough may also need treatment, even if they are not sick, to prevent further infection. Your doctor may refer you for further testing which may include mucus samples, blood tests, or a chest x-ray.
Babies who are younger than four months MUST be treated in hospital. Babies are extremely susceptible to whooping cough, and the infection can be deadly. In hospital, babies can be closely monitored by doctors and given oxygen, fluids, and nutrition as required.
People with whooping cough are encouraged to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat small meals to avoid vomiting after coughing, in addition to medical treatment.

How can I prevent the spread of whooping cough?

• Cover your, or encourage your child to cover their mouth when you cough, or wear a mask
• Wash your hands often
• Avoid all contact with babies and young children until you have been on antibiotics for five days, or on your doctor’s advice
• Make sure other people in your home get the whooping cough vaccine, if they haven’t already had it
• If your child has whooping cough make sure their carers/teachers get the whooping cough vaccine if they haven’t already had it
• Do not let your child return to school/day care/kindergarten until they are given the okay by a doctor

The current recommendations are that pregnant women be vaccinated during each pregnancy, from 28 weeks onwards. The closer to the 28 weeks mark, the greater the immune response and therefore protection across the placenta to the baby.


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Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

What is GBS?

GBS is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in many healthy adults. GBS is not the same species of bacteria as group A streptococcus which causes strep throat.

People with GBS often carry the bacteria without any ill effect or symptoms. In healthy adults GBS is usually harmless, however a pregnant lady with GBS can pass it on to her baby during delivery which can put the baby at risk of developing severe infections which could end up being life threatening. Fortunately, with proper screening and treatment a mother who carries GBS can reduce the risk of her baby developing an illness.

How Can I protect my baby from GBS?

Fortunately most cases of GBS disease in new born babies can be prevented by a simple test carried out on the mother between 35 and 37 weeks. This involves your doctor or midwife collecting a swab sample from your vagina and rectum which is sent off to a laboratory and indicates whether you are a carrier of GBS. If you are a GBS carrier you should receive antibiotics through an IV when your water breaks or during labour. Antibiotics can prevent the passing of GBS to your baby. You should also have IV antibiotics during labour if you have previously had a baby that developed GBS disease or if you have had a urinary tract infection during your pregnancy caused by GBS. Taking antibiotics before you go into labour will not prevent the transmission of GBS because the bacteria can grow too quickly.

What should I do if I am a GBS carrier?

Talk to your doctor about a plan for labour. Let your doctor know if you are allergic to any antibiotics. Go to the hospital when your water breaks or when your labour begins. Antibiotics work the best if you receive them four hours before your baby’s birth. Tell your labour and delivery team that you are a GBS carrier. Expect to receive IV antibiotics.

What should I do if I go into labour before being tested for GBS?

If your water breaks or you go into labour and you have not been tested for GBS let your delivery team know you have not been tested. Let them know if you are allergic to any antibiotics. Regardless of your GBS status expect to receive IV antibiotics if: you have pre-term labour (before 37 weeks), your water breaks more than 18 hours before you go into labour or you have a fever during labour.

What are the possible complications of GBS disease?

If a baby develops GBS disease the complications can be life threatening and may include:

Sepsis: A condition that occurs when the infection travels through the bloodstream
Pneumonia: An infection that occurs in the lungs
Meningitis: An infection of the linings and fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

Where can I get more information about GBS?

Talk to your doctor or health care professional about protecting your baby from GBS and other health conditions