Survey finds parents to be least knowledgeable about invasive pneumococcal disease

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Pfizer Inc., in partnership with Parents magazine, announced today the results of a national survey of more than 2,000 new and expectant parents assessing their knowledge of childhood infectious diseases, such as measles, whooping cough and invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), and the measures parents can take to help prevent them.

Conducted online by Harris Poll, the survey found that parents were least knowledgeable about IPD, when compared among 11 childhood illnesses. In fact, only three of every 10 (30%) parents of children under two years of age and expectant parents report they are knowledgeable about IPD. Although IPD may be discussed in well-child visits, nearly one in four (23%) have never even heard of it, illustrating the need for more education.

IPD is a serious disease that can include pneumococcal meningitis or a bloodstream infection (pneumococcal bacteremia). Even an ear infection can sometimes develop into IPD.

The bacteria that cause IPD can spread through the air with a cough, by direct contact with toys, or by direct contact with saliva or mucus. Many people, especially children, can have the bacteria in their nose or throat without becoming sick themselves. Among children, babies under two years old are at highest risk, and they can be infected almost anywhere they are.

While many new and expectant parents recognize other serious diseases by name, the survey findings suggest that IPD remains a mystery. By comparison, more than twice as many are knowledgeable about pertussis (whooping cough) (69%), measles (68%), polio (64%), Hepatitis B (63%), and mumps (63%).

"The first few years of parenthood are a series of learning experiences, but when it comes to infectious diseases, such as IPD, it's best to be as prepared as possible," said board-certified pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, a nationally renowned parenting expert and contributor to Parents magazine. "It's important parents stay informed, recognize common symptoms—such as fever, chills, headache, and irritability—and, most importantly, talk to their pediatrician about how to best keep their child safe."

Today, many of these potentially dangerous infections, like invasive pneumococcal disease, are still occurring in the U.S. Children under two years of age are at a higher risk for getting certain childhood diseases because their immune systems aren't fully developed. Parents should consult their baby's healthcare provider during regular well-child visits throughout the first years of life. Even when a baby's health seems fine, regular check-ups during the first two years can help ensure a baby receives the recommended preventive care.

"As a longstanding, trusted resource, we aim to help parents navigate the often confusing, often scary aspects of health and safety news," said Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief of Parents. "While most parents surveyed (62%) report it is important to keep their babies current with vaccinations, many still have questions about the diseases they are vaccinating against. It is for that reason we are committed to ensuring parents have the tools they need so they can make well-informed decisions for their children."

There are resources online from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for parents to learn more about protecting their baby, including the CDC Recommended Immunization Schedule. Additionally, for information specific to IPD, please visit


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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