Mothers may be able to protect their babies from whooping cough by getting vaccinated before giving birth - or even before they get pregnant, research shows.
University of Sydney scientists have discovered that children born to mothers who had been immunised are 50 per cent less likely to get whooping cough in the first four months of life.
Dr Helen Quinn, who is scheduled to reveal the results at the annual meeting of the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) today, said this was the first hard evidence that immunising a woman from whooping cough could help her baby.
“It suggests that vaccination as part of pre-pregnancy planning would have the greatest impact on whooping cough infection,” Dr Quinn said.
The annual meeting of ASID, being held in Canberra, will also hear research showing that if you are unlucky enough to share a plane with someone with measles, you may not need to sit next to them to catch it.
The study, conducted in Western Australia, looked at 20 cases of measles caught on flights between 2007 and 2011 and found the majority of those infected were seated more than two rows away from the traveller who spread it.
Another study to be presented at the meeting shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and a risk of developing tuberculosis.
The research from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne suggests rates of TB infection are 37 per cent higher after darker winter months than in the rest of the year.
Jennifer MacLachlan and Dr Benjamin Cowie suggest their results have implications for the traditional “slip, slop, slap” sun-safe message.
“Blanket recommendations regarding reducing sun exposure for all Australians, particularly in winter months, may not be optimal,“ they say.
“We need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.”