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About Maternal and Newborn Tetanus (MNT)

What is newborn tetanus?

The tetanus bacteria breeds in soil, animal dung and faeces. In unhygienic surroundings, it can come into contact with babies at birth. Cutting the baby’s umbilical cord with non-sterilised instruments – or traditions of not tying the cord or ‘sealing’ it with dung or mud, can lead to infection.

Within days of exposure to the tetanus bacteria, the disease rages through newborns and almost always leads to a swift and painful death.

Why are vaccines important?

If a mother is vaccinated with two doses of tetanus toxoid vaccine, her immunity passes to her baby, who is then protected for the first two months of life. She herself is also protected against tetanus for three years. Sadly, many of the poorest people in developing countries have little or no access to routine healthcare services such as immunization.

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