Siblings, not mothers, are most likely source of infants' whooping cough infections

Infants who get whooping cough, or pertussis, are likely getting it from their brothers and sisters, not their mothers, according to a study in Pediatrics covered by Reuters.

Researchers used data on more than 1,300 infants who had whooping cough, gathered between 2006 and 2013. They were able to determine the source of infection for 44 percent of the infants. Of those, siblings were the source of infection for 36 percent of them, while mothers were the infection source 21 percent of the time. Fathers were the source for 10 percent of cases.

Mothers were the main source of infant whooping cough infections until 2008, according to the report. The shift from mothers to siblings as the main source of infection could be attributed to the fact that whooping cough is becoming more common in older children due to decreasing strength of the whooping cough vaccine.

"Knowing where they're getting their disease from is important so we can target our approach accordingly," said Tami Skoff, the study's lead author and an epidemiologist with the CDC.

Ms. Skoff suggests that women should get the whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy as to pass along protection to the fetus.

More articles on whooping cough:
Is a weaker vaccine to blame for Washington whooping cough outbreak?
Whooping cough spreads in Wisconsin
Whooping cough epidemic rages on in California

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