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Doctors say more babies are getting potentially fatal whooping cough

The condition can have fatal consequences for babies up to three months of age.

Image: Shutterstock/Tomsickova Tatyana

DOCTORS HAVE WARNED that the number of cases of whooping cough in babies is on the rise.

GPs in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) say they have recently seen an increase in the condition, which is also known as pertussis, in newborns.

Whooping cough can have serious and even fatal consequences for newborn babies up to three months of age. In 2015 there were 117 cases of whooping cough in Ireland, up from 73 cases in 2014.

The HSE has acknowledged an increase incidence of the illness in the Longford area and has applied an ‘outbreak code’ that allows GPs to administer a vaccine under the general medical service.

GPs are urging pregnant women to consider getting vaccinated to protect their unborn baby from the condition.

Vaccination 

Dr Padraig McGarry, Chairman of the IMO GP Committee and a GP in Longford, said there had been an increase in the incidence of young babies being brought to his surgery with whooping cough over recent weeks.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and incredibly distressing for both baby and mother, and the consequences for a young baby can be very serious – even fatal.

“We have noticed an increase in the number of mothers bringing young babies to the surgery with this condition and some other colleagues are reporting similar experiences in different parts of the country,” Dr McGarry said.

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He said pregnant women should consider getting the vaccination administered by their own doctor, and that the HSE should include the vaccine as part of the Mother and Infant Prenatal Scheme.

“The best way to encourage greater uptake of this vaccine is by including it in the Mother and Infant Prenatal Scheme. However, even before that happens, we would encourage expectant mums to consider getting the vaccine from their own GPs directly. The optimal time to receive the vaccine is between week between 16 and 36 weeks gestation.”

More information on the condition can be read on the HSE’s website.

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Órla Ryan

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