Hospital websites missing important information about whooping cough prevention

During pregnancy, many moms-to-be spend time looking online for information about labor and delivery, newborn care, and hospital hours and policies. But many birthing hospital websites lack easy-to-find information about a very important topic for expectant parents: whooping cough prevention.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious infection that can cause serious illness and death in newborns and young children. Effective vaccines are available to prevent whooping cough for children, teens, and adults – but babies can’t receive their first dose of the vaccine until they’re 2 months old, leaving them vulnerable to illness. That’s why the CDC recommends vaccinating all family members and caregivers – including pregnant moms – before they have contact with the newborn baby, to “cocoon” the baby from exposure to whooping cough.

But according to a study published this week in American Journal of Infection Control, this important information about whooping cough prevention is not easily available on the websites of birthing hospitals. The researchers searched the websites of all 85 birthing hospitals in Michigan and found that most hospitals (64%) had no information about preventing whooping cough in babies – and almost all of the hospitals that did have information had it buried in archived documents on the website where it would be very difficult for a user to access. For more information on this study, visit:

In a 2013 National Poll on Children’s Health, we asked adults for their perspectives on ways to protect babies from whooping cough. 72% of adults agreed that parents have the right to insist that visitors receive the pertussis vaccine before visiting a newborn baby in the hospital, and 61% said parents should make sure all adults are vaccinated against pertussis before visiting a newborn baby at home. However, 61% of adults also said they don’t know when they were last vaccinated against pertussis themselves. Read the full report: Protecting newborns from whooping cough.

Infographic: Opinions about Protecting Babies by Vaccinating Adults against Pertussis
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For more information about whooping cough prevention, watch this short video with Dr. Matt Davis, a pediatrician and Director of the National Poll on Children’s Health. Dr. Davis was also a coauthor on the study released this week in American Journal of Infection Control.