Review of vaccination in pregnancy to prevent pertussis in early infancy

J Med Microbiol. 2018 Oct;67(10):1426-1456. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.000829. Epub 2018 Sep 17.


Maternal pertussis vaccination has been introduced in several countries to protect infants from birth until routine infant vaccination takes place. This review assesses existing evidence on the effectiveness and safety of immunization in pregnancy. The search was finalized in April 2017 and was based on searches using several databases. The selection criteria included any experimental or observational study reporting on the immunogenicity, effectiveness or safety of vaccination with a pertussis-containing vaccine in pregnant women and their infants. Following de-duplication and exclusions, we identified 8395 studies, which were reduced to 46 for inclusion. The overall risk of bias was low, with the exception of some early studies and pharmacovigilance safety data. The evidence demonstrates efficient transplacental transfer of maternal antibodies in infants whose mothers were vaccinated with Tdap or Tdap/IPV in pregnancy, with good evidence that this protects against disease in young infants. Safety studies covering more than 150 000 women vaccinated mostly in the late second or third trimesters are generally consistent and provide reassurance of no significant increased risk of recognized maternal conditions or of adverse events (including congenital anomalies) in infants born to vaccinated women. The clinical significance of reduced seroconversion to pertussis following routine immunization is not yet clear, but no increased risk of pertussis in infants whose mothers were vaccinated in pregnancy was found following primary immunizations in North American and English studies. Most post-booster studies suggest that any blunting effect is short-lived and that longer-term protection in infants from active immunization is not compromised.

Keywords: maternal vaccination; pertussis; review; vaccine effectiveness; vaccine safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bordetella pertussis / genetics
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology*
  • Bordetella pertussis / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / microbiology
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pertussis Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Pertussis Vaccine / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Vaccination
  • Whooping Cough / embryology
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*


  • Pertussis Vaccine