Pertussis hospitalizations among term and preterm infants: clinical course and vaccine effectiveness

Nicoline A. T. van der Maas*, Elisabeth A. M. Sanders, Florens G. A. Versteegh, Albertine Baauw, Anneke Westerhof, Hester E. de Melker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Pertussis causes severe disease in young unvaccinated infants, with preterms potentially at highest risk. We studied pertussis in hospitalized infants as related to gestational age (GA) and vaccination history.

Methods: Medical record data of 0-2y old patients hospitalized for pertussis during 2005-2014 were linked to vaccination data. Multivariable logistic regression was used to study the association between GA and vaccination history on the clinical disease course. We compared vaccine effectiveness (VE) against hospitalization for pertussis between term and preterm infants (i.e.,

Results: Of 1187 records, medical data from 676 were retrieved. Of these, 12% concerned preterms, whereas they are 8% of Dutch birth cohorts. Median age at admission was 3 m for preterms and 2 m for terms (p <0.001). Preterms more often had received pertussis vaccination (62% vs 44%; p = 0.01) and more often had coinfections (37% vs 21%; p = 0.01). Preterms tended more often to have complications, to require artificial respiration or to need admittance to the intensive care unit (ICU). Preterms had longer ICU stays (15d vs 9d; p = 0.004). Vaccinated preterms and terms had a lower median length of hospital stay and lower crude risks of apneas and the need for artificial respiration, additional oxygen, and ICU admittance than those not vaccinated. After adjustment for presence of coinfections and age at admittance, these differences were not significant, except the lower need of oxygen treatment in vaccinated terms. Effectiveness of the first vaccination against pertussis hospitalizations was 95% (95% CI 93-96%) and 73% (95% CI 20-91%) in terms and preterms, respectively. Effectiveness of the second dose of the primary vaccination series was comparable in both groups (86 and 99%, respectively).

Conclusions: Infants hospitalized for pertussis suffer from severe disease. Preterms were overrepresented, with higher need for intensive treatment and less VE of first vaccination. These findings stress the need for alternative prevention, in particular prenatal vaccination of mothers, to reduce pertussis in both groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number919
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29-Oct-2019


  • Pertussis
  • Preterms
  • Infants
  • Hospitalization
  • Vaccine effectiveness
  • Vaccination
  • RISK

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