Infant pertussis and maternal immunity: The curious case of Canada

Natasha S. Crowcroft*, Shelly Bolotin, Ye Li, Helen Campbell, Gayatri Amirthalingam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The United Kingdom (UK) and Canada use the same acellular pertussis vaccine and both experienced large pertussis outbreaks in the past, occurring in the 1980s in the UK and 1990s in Canada, yet current epidemiology differs. A national outbreak with infant deaths occurred in the UK in 2012, yet outbreaks remain localized and death from pertussis rare in Canada.

Aim: We explored whether past outbreaks in children may influence future risk when those children become parents.

Methods: We conducted an ecological within-country birth cohort analysis in women of childbearing age of the relative risk of ever having pertussis infection by two points in time, 2002 and 2012, comparing with 1992 as the baseline. We used notified cases of pertussis in England and Wales and Canada to compare trends in relative risk. We projected forward to 2022 in Canada assuming incidence remained stable.

Results: In Canada, the cumulative risk of previous pertussis was similar in 2002 and 2012 and, in both periods, was higher than in 1992. In England and Wales, the cumulative risk of pertussis fell stepwise from 1992 to 2012. Projecting forwards, the pattern of risk in Canada becomes similar to England and Wales in 2022.

Conclusions: Widespread pertussis outbreaks in children may reduce the risk of pertussis in infants when those children become parents. Further research is needed to determine the mechanism. As birth cohorts that experienced outbreaks grow past childbearing age, pertussis burden in infants in Canada may increase, following trends observed in England and Wales. Crown Copyright (C) 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1977-1981
Number of pages5
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Maternal immunization
  • Pertussis
  • Pertussis resurgence
  • Pertussis vaccination


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