Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis Vaccination During Pregnancy and Risk of Pertussis in the Newborn in Publicly and Privately Insured Mother-infant Pairs in the United States

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2021 Jul 1;40(7):681-687. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000003099.


Background: In the United States, pertussis circulation persists and primarily infects infants and children, despite routine vaccinations. To minimize infant morbidity and mortality from the disease before the first DTaP dose, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends maternal Tdap vaccination in weeks 27-36 of pregnancy.

Methods: Cohorts of mother-infant pairs in the Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX) (2010-2014) and IBM MarketScan (2011-2015) databases were analyzed to estimate the effectiveness of prenatal Tdap vaccination compared with no vaccination to prevent infant pertussis in the first 6 months. Hazard ratios were estimated with Cox proportional hazards models and adjusted for potential confounders via inverse probability weights. The impact of preterm delivery on the risk of pertussis was analyzed. Results from the 2 databases were pooled.

Results: In MarketScan, women received Tdap vaccination before delivery in 114,067 (25.6%) of 445,638 pregnancies and in MAX, 33,286 (4.8%) of 695,262 pregnancies. Among pregnancies with preterm delivery, only 21.2% and 3.8% in MarketScan and MAX had been vaccinated. The risk of pertussis in unvaccinated term infants was 3.5 (MarketScan) and 17 (MAX) per 10,000; and in preterm infants, it was 8.4 (MarketScan) and 19.8 (MAX) per 10,000. The pooled hazard ratio for Tdap vaccination any time before delivery versus no vaccination was 0.64 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.41-1.00]. The hazard ratio was 0.11 (95% CI: 0.03-0.36) for preterm and 0.78 (95% CI: 0.48-1.29) for term infants vaccinated before 37 weeks. The incidence of pertussis was higher and the protective hazard ratio stronger during pertussis outbreaks.

Conclusions: Prenatal Tdap vaccination reduces the risk of pertussis infections in the infants' first 6 months by 36%. Vaccination soon after 27 weeks of pregnancy, before when deliveries began, ensures vaccination includes those born preterm, who are at highest risk for pertussis and benefit particularly from this vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diphtheria / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medicaid
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Tetanus / prevention & control*
  • United States
  • Vaccination / economics
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult