Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that poses a serious risk to babies. A high pitched ‘whooping sound’ can be heard during coughing spells, which can be long and painful. Babies under six months of age who contract whooping cough face a high risk of life-threatening complications. It is extremely important that your baby has his whooping cough vaccine at two months, four months, six months, 18 months, and four years. Your partner, other children, and anyone else who will be in frequent and close contact with your newborn should also have the whooping cough booster, even if they’ve been infected in the past. Vaccination is recommended for pregnant women at around the 28-32 week mark in the third trimester, to help protect the baby from developing whooping cough in the early weeks of their life.
Signs and symptoms
- Runny nose and dry cough, cold like symptoms during first seven days of illness.
- After the first week, long spells of coughing. Your child may make a ‘whooping’ sound when they try to catch their breath at the end of a cough.
- After a long coughing spell, your child may vomit.
- More severe infections may make it hard for babies and children to catch their breath after a coughing fit.
- Pneumonia and middle ear infections can also develop alongside whooping cough.
Seek medical advice IF
Your child should be seen by a GP as soon as possible if you suspect they may have whooping cough. There is no strict time frame for recovery- every child is different. The cough can persist for up to ten weeks, even with antibiotic treatment. It is very important that you strictly follow the recommended exclusion periods for school and childcare.
Call an ambulance IF…
If your child is struggling to breathe or their lips turn blue, call an ambulance straight away.
…and to maintain perspective!!
Whooping cough is a serious illness in babies, however by taking the correct precautions and ensuring your family receive their booster vaccines before the baby is born, you can significantly reduce the chance of your baby becoming infected. Older children are generally symptom-free and well in between coughing episodes, and often the infection is mild enough that parents are unaware their child has whooping cough.