Neonatal tetanus is a major cause of childhood mortality in developing countries. In 1997 an estimated 277,376 neonatal deaths were attributed to tetanus, corresponding to a global mortality rate of 2.1 per 1000 live births. More recently, because of successful vaccination programmes and application of single-dose antenatal tetanus immunisationprevention strategies, the last available World Health Organization (WHO) estimate for deaths caused by neonatal tetanus (year 2013), was 49,000.
Tetanus in new-born babies is an infection causing rigidity, muscle spasm and often death. It is quite common in low-income countries, as a result of insufﬁcientprotection being passed from the mother to her baby during pregnancy, and infection of the umbilical cord if it is cut with contaminated instruments.
- A protective effect against deaths caused by tetanus was observed among the new- borns from mothers who received at least two dosesof the tetanus toxoid vaccine when compared with new-borns from mothers who were immunised with inﬂuenza vaccine.
- Cases of tetanus were less frequent among new-borns from women who received at least one dose of tetanus toxoid.
- The women experienced more pain with the vaccine injection than with the placebo.