13 Dec 2012

Whooping cough warning after baby death

8:49 pm on 13 December 2012

A six-week-old baby has died at Christchurch Hospital from whooping cough.

Canterbury medical officer of health Ramon Pink said the death occurred in November, the second fatality resulting from the disease since a nationwide epidemic was identified in 2011.

The infant contracted whooping cough from her mother.

Dr Pink said parents need to make sure their young children are vaccinated against the disease before Christmas. He said more than half the children under one year old who are infected are admitted to hospital.

Dr Pink said it is especially important as Christmas approaches that adults or older children who may be sick take care not to infect babies.

The Government announced on Wednesday that a vaccine will be available nationwide in the new year for pregnant women so their babies are protected against the disease before the regular immunisation programme begins at six weeks of age.

Nikki Turner, director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland, says a mother's antibodies are passed to the baby while it is in the womb and then protects it for up to six weeks after birth.