Global Childhood Deaths From Pertussis: A Historical Review

Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Dec 1;63(suppl 4):S134-S141. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw529.


Impact of pertussis vaccines on mortality is a key World Health Organization indicator, and trends in mortality rates and age distribution can inform maternal immunization strategies. We systematically reviewed studies reporting pertussis mortality rates (PMRs) per million population, identifying 19 eligible studies. During a prevaccine observation period of ≥50 years in high-income countries (HICs), PMRs reduced in both infants and 1- to 4-year-olds by >80%, along with improvements in living conditions. In studies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), PMRs resembled highest prevaccine HIC rates. Postvaccine in HICs, significant further reduction in deaths (>98%) occurred, but with a large left shift in age of onset among residual deaths. Postvaccine in LMICs, limited data also show large and rapid decreases in PMRs, first in older infants and children, but long-term data fully enumerating residual deaths are lacking. In Sweden, large increases in the prevalence of undetectable pertussis antibodies were found at 10 years after high childhood coverage of acellular pertussis vaccines. Such data are not available from LMICs using whole-cell vaccines in a primary schedule without boosters. Data on residual infant deaths and maternal seroprevalence would be valuable inputs into consideration of pertussis vaccination in pregnancy in LMIC settings, especially if more precise immune correlates of infant protection against death from pertussis were known.

Keywords: childhood deaths; pertussis; review.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis Vaccines / immunology
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Vaccination
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology
  • Whooping Cough / history
  • Whooping Cough / mortality*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control


  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis Vaccines
  • Pertussis Vaccine