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February 17, 1945


JAMA. 1945;127(7):379-384. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860070011004

According to the recent mortality records the majority of deaths from pertussis occur in infants. Between 1938 and 1940 inclusive almost 67 per cent of the 10,730 deaths from whooping cough reported in the United States occurred during the first year of life and 47 per cent of these deaths were in infants under 7 months of age (table 1 and fig. 1). The exceptionally high mortality which pertussis exacts in the first half year of life calls for thorough investigation of the possibility of increasing the resistance of young infants to the disease by immunizing them shortly after birth. This procedure has been objected to chiefly because of the belief that young infants do not possess the ability to develop active immunity. No extensive study has been carried out, however, to establish the earliest age at which immunity to pertussis can be acquired. Sauer1 recommends immunization after the

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