Prenatal Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis Vaccination and Autism Spectrum Disorder


Increasing vaccination of pregnant women makes it important to assess safety events potentially linked to prenatal vaccination. This study investigates the association between prenatal tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk in offspring.


This is a retrospective cohort study of mother-child pairs with deliveries January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2014 at Kaiser Permanente Southern California hospitals. Maternal Tdap vaccination from pregnancy start to delivery date was obtained from electronic medical records. A diagnosis of ASD was obtained by using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth and Tenth Revision codes. Children were managed from birth to first ASD diagnosis, end of membership, or end of follow-up (June 30, 2017). Cox proportional hazards models estimated the unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for the association between maternal Tdap vaccination and ASD, with inverse probability of treatment weighting to adjust for confounding.


Women vaccinated were more likely to be Asian American or Pacific Islander, be nulliparous, have a higher education, receive influenza vaccination prenatally, and give birth at term. ASD was diagnosed in 1341 (1.6%) children, and the incidence rate was 3.78 per 1000 person years in the Tdap exposed and 4.05 per 1000 person years in the unexposed group (HR: 0.98, 95% confidence interval: 0.88–1.09). The inverse probability of treatment weighting–adjusted analyses revealed that prenatal Tdap vaccination was not associated with an increased ASD risk (HR: 0.85, 95% confidence interval: 0.77–0.95).


Prenatal Tdap vaccination was not associated with an increased ASD risk. We support recommendations to vaccinate pregnant women to protect infants, who are at highest risk of death after pertussis infection.

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