Home > Pertussis, Vaccine Preventable Suffering > 38-Day-Old Baby Dies After Persisting Cough

38-Day-Old Baby Dies After Persisting Cough


Baby Callie was a miracle baby to Katie and Craig VanTourhout of South Bend, Ind. After four miscarriages, Katie VanTourhout got pregnant again in 2009 and this time it was a success.

It was an easy, healthy pregnancy, VanTourhout said her doctors told her. Her doctor made sure she had flu shots, she said. And then, six weeks before she was due, Callie Grace was born on Christmas Day.

“Once they said we were in the clear, we jumped for joy and we were just giddy all the time,” VanTourhout said.

But when Callie was a couple weeks old, she developed a cough, so the VanTourhouts checked in with their pediatrician.

Although Katie VanTourhout said doctors told them it was nothing too serious, the cough persisted, and during a return visit to the doctor, Callie stopped breathing and was rushed to the hospital.

Two days later, at 38 days old, Callie stopped breathing again and could not be saved.

But while Callie was too young to receive the vaccine, family members and those around Callie should have been immunized. Transmission by adults who are not vaccinated themselves or who have not recieved the recommended booster shot is responsible for most pertussis cases among babies. In fact, half of babies with pertussis are infected by their parents.

While it is uncertain whether whooping cough was transmitted from Katie VanTourhout to Callie, Katie VanTourhout said she never received Tdap — the adult recommended booster shot — before her pregnancy and was not offered the vaccine postpartum.

“We had no idea what the whooping cough vaccination was, that they wanted mothers to have,” VanTourhout said. “Nobody mentioned it to us, nobody brought it up to us, nobody talked about it. We honestly had no clue.”


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