Submitted by: Emily Wagner
Infants lack immunity to many dangerous diseases because they can’t receive most vaccinations until months after birth. Our research group is investigating the effectiveness of maternal immunization (that is, vaccinating a mother late in pregnancy) as a way of seeing babies immunized earlier. How it works: mothers’ antibodies are transmitted through the placenta during pregnancy, and in breast milk after the infant is born, providing immune protection. We are currently participating in a national study of maternal vaccination with the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. We hope our study will help prevent infant deaths from this and other potentially devastating illnesses.