Immunization of pregnant women against pertussis: the effect of timing on antibody avidity

Vaccine. 2015 Apr 15;33(16):1948-52. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.02.059. Epub 2015 Mar 3.


Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend tetanus-diphteria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) immunization during pregnancy, preferably at 27-36 weeks gestation.

Aims: First, to assess the relative avidity index (RAI) of umbilical cord immunoglobulin G (IgG) to pertussis toxin (PT) for newborns of women immunized with Tdap during late pregnancy as compared to unimmunized women. Second, to assess whether there is a preferential period of gestational Tdap immunization that provides the highest RAI of umbilical cord IgG to PT.

Methods: RAI of IgG to PT was assessed via an adapted ELISA using NH4SCN as a dissociating agent.

Results: We found that newborns of women immunized with Tdap during late pregnancy (n=52) had higher mean RAI of umbilical cord IgG to PT than those of unimmunized women (n=8), 73.77%±12.08 (95% CI, 70.41-77.13) vs. 50.23%±21.32 (95% CI, 32.41-68.06), p<0.001. Further, the RAI of umbilical cord IgG to PT was significantly higher in newborns of women immunized at 27-30(+6) weeks gestation (n=20) when compared with newborns of women immunized at 31-36 weeks (n=22) and >36 weeks (n=7), 79.53%±5.61 (95% CI, 76.91-82.16) vs. 71.56%±12.58 (95% CI, 65.98-77.14) vs. 63.93%±17.98 (95% CI, 47.31-80.56), p<0.03.

Conclusion: Gestational Tdap immunization between 27 and 30(+6) weeks resulted in the highest avidity of IgG to PT conveyed at delivery as compared with immunization beyond 31 weeks gestation. Future studies should be conducted to confirm our findings to optimize pertussis-controlling strategies.

Keywords: Immunoglobulin G; Pertussis; Pertussis toxin; Relative avidity index; Tetanus–diphtheria–acellular pertussis maternal immunization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antibody Affinity / immunology*
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology*
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis Vaccines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Immunization*
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulin G