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Your Baby's Vaccinations: DTaP

Apr 23, 2008
One of the worst times in a young mother's life is the first time that she has to take her baby to be vaccinated. It probably bothers her more than it does the infant. Looking at her baby's vaccination schedule, the new mother can tell which shot that her baby is receiving, but she may have no idea about what it is for. Understanding what disease that a vaccine is used against can help a young mother understand the need for them.

One of the most common vaccines on a vaccination schedule is DTaP or just DPT, which stands for diphtheria, tetanus, and petussis. Diphtheria is a respiratory disease caused by bacteria. It is spread by coughing and sneezing and usually begins as a sore throat and a low-grade fever. This disease can cause the airway to become obstructed. Without treatment, this obstruction can lead to a coma and even death.

Tetanus (also called Lockjaw) is a disease that is caused by bacteria and affects the nervous system. It usually enters through a break in the skin (most people associate it with stepping on a rusty nail), and causes lockjaw, stiffness in the neck and abdomen, and difficulty swallowing in the first stages. Later symptoms can include severe muscle spasms, severe autonomic nervous system disorders, and generalized tonic seizure-like activity. This disease results in death in about 10% to 20% of patients.

Pertussis Disease is another respiratory disease that is caused by bacteria. It is also spread by coughing and sneezing. This disease's symptoms resemble those of a common cold. These include a runny nose, sneezing, a low-grade fever, and a cough. After a couple of weeks, the victim may experience bursts of numerous rapid coughs. Recovery could take months. This disease can have serious complications including bacterial pneumonia and rib fractures. In infants it can lead to apnea (breathing stops), seizures, encephalopathy, and death.

The DTaP vaccination protects a child from all three of these diseases. Beginning at the age of two months, infants are given five different doses of this vaccination up until they are eighteen months old. The second dose should be given at the age of four months. The third should follow at the age of six months. The fourth dose should be administered at the age of eighteen months. A fifth vaccination should be given to a child between four and six years of age.

Along with the DTaP vaccine, there are other vaccines available to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertissus. DT can be used as a substitute vaccination for children who cannot take the pertissus vaccine. Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine that is the tetanus shot that is familiar to most people. These are booster shots that are given to adolescents and adults every ten years, unless an injury occurs. TdaP is the same as Td except that this shot contains the pertissus vaccine and is recommended for children eleven to twelve years of age.

The fact that adults receive booster shots of the tetanus vaccine can be used as proof of how dangerous these diseases are. Anyone with an infant should make sure that their child gets his vaccinations done. The consequences of not doing so could be deadly.
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