Three babies have died from whooping cough in October in one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in the last twenty years, taking the number of deaths for babies under three months to a worrying 13 deaths this year.

Whooping cough is characterised as a distressing "whoop" sound as seen here,where babies and young children gasp for air after a coughing fit. It is highly contagious and serious illness in the very young and vulnerable and can lead to death in some cases.

Some 1,614 cases of infections were reported last month in children under three months of age , bringing the total to over 7000 this year. And in a move to combat the outbreak it has been reported that mothers-to-be who are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant will be offered the vaccination to protect their new born babies.

Children can't receive the jab until they are two months old. When the doses are given at two, three and four months of age. So vaccinating their mothers before they are born will boost their immunity until they reach the age when they can have the injection themselves

The health Prevention Agency has recommended that all pregnant women take up the offer of vaccination to protect against pneumonia, brain damage, weight loss and death.

Written and presented by Ann Salter