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Christine Cordova
Associate Social Editor

Mom Shares Video to Highlight Dangers of Whooping Cough

It’s hard to watch, but you should anyway.
PUBLISHED ON 08/23/2016

Baby might not be old enough to be vaccinated against whooping cough—but you are. One mom’s powerful Facebook video is driving home this message to other new parents.

“This video may distress some people,” Sandra Lee, a mom of two, writes. “But I'm sharing to show just how scary and dangerous whooping cough is to babies who are too young to be vaccinated.”

The video shows Lee’s 5-week-old daughter, Heidi, choking and unable to breath.

Whooping cough (or pertussis) is a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms and affects baby’s ability to breath, making it extremely dangerous. According to the CDC, more than half of babies under the age of one who are diagnosed with whooping cough need to be hospitialized and one in 100 cases are fatal. Babies cannot receive the TDaP vaccine, which protects against pertussis as well as tetanus and diphtheria, until they’re two months old. But parents, family and friends should be vaccinated to help prevent transmission, especially since symptoms aren’t always what you’d think.

“Whooping cough is not always a loud obvious cough. The scary symptom for babies is when they don't cough but silently choke and turn blue/purple from lack of oxygen,” writes Lee.

It’s true—despite the name, the sound associated with whooping cough is often silent. “[Babies] don’t produce enough energy or pressure difference in their lungs to cause the classic ‘whoop,’” Jeffrey Kahn, MD, director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, tells The Bump. Other symptoms include a runny nose, fever and watery eyes.

In most cases, babies contract the infection from an older sibling, parent or caregiver, who might be unaware that they even have pertussis. Because whooping cough symptoms mimic those of the common cold or flu, the infection often isn’t detected until more severe symptoms appear. Those include:

  • Fits of rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched ‘whoop’
  • Vomiting during or after coughing fits
  • Exhaustion after coughing fits

“Please don't ignore the warning signs—our baby girl only had a slight cough to start. Please share this to educate more people on the importance of vaccinations,” Lee says.

Learn more about the importance of vaccines and when baby can receive them here.