An anti-vax mother in Australia turned into an immunization advocate after she passed the potentially deadly whooping cough to her newborn baby.
Cormit Avital refused to take the whooping cough vaccination during her pregnancy because she said she was a "healthy, fit, organic woman."
Cormit recorded a video to share her "nightmare" experience and to warn other parents. In the video, Cormit says she had been a "very healthy pregnant woman." She worked out, went to the gym and ate healthily. She had no complications, deficiencies or pregnancy problems, which is why she saw no use for the vaccine.
Unfortunately, she managed to contract the whooping cough disease during the last two weeks of her pregnancy. After she gave birth, she learned that she had passed the disease onto her newborn baby, Eva.
Cormit shares that when Eva was 2 weeks old, her cough escalated to the "point of going blue." Eva is still at the hospital, spending nearly a month in the intensive care unit of the Gold Coast Health Hospital.
"If I could turn back time I would protect myself," Cormit says in the video, which was released by Gold Coast Health.
According to Dr. Paul Van Buynder, the hospital's public health medical officer, Eva seems to have improved and can be released in the following weeks.
Also known as 'pertussis,' whooping cough is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. This disease often affects newborns who are at risk of developing several complications, including death.
The earliest symptoms of whooping cough are quite similar to that of a common cold. They can escalate into a cough that can lead to pneumonia.
Infants affected by whooping cough can turn blue amid the short, abrupt coughs that are often followed by gasps for air. While adults can become infected, many cases are often undiagnosed.
According to the Government Services report, which was released in February, whooping cough cases in Australia increased from 3,988 to 6,670 from 2014 to 2015.
The Australian government recommends that pregnant women, as well as newborns and children, get a whooping cough vaccine. During the pregnancy's third trimester, health experts recommend getting a booster shot because antibodies can be transferred to the unborn baby via the placenta and, after birth, protect the baby from the disease.
"Every pregnant woman in every pregnancy needs to have another pertussis vaccine," said Buynder. "That means she will give antibodies across the placenta to her baby when it's being developed so they will be safe in their first six months which is when they [can] die."
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