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J Pediatr. 2000 Nov;137(5):623-8.

Preterm infants with low immunoglobulin G levels have increased risk of neonatal sepsis but do not benefit from prophylactic immunoglobulin G.

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Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden; Children's Hospital, Vienna-Glanzig, Austria.



In a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter study, we evaluated the prevention of neonatal infections with intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIgG) prophylaxis for preterm infants (gestational age <33 weeks) with umbilical cord blood IgG levels < or =4 g/L.


Intravenous IgG or placebo (albumin), 1 g/kg body weight, was given on days 0, 3, 7, 14, and 21 to 81 infants with umbilical cord blood IgG levels < or =4 g/L: (1) IVIgG group, n = 40, mean (SD) gestational age 27.5 (2.2) weeks and birth weight 1.06 (0.39) kg; (2) placebo group, n = 41, mean (SD) gestational age 27.7 (2.5) weeks and birth weight 1.13 (0.38) kg. Infants with umbilical cord blood IgG levels >4 g/L (n = 238) served as a separate comparison group. Neonatal infections according to European Society of Pediatric Infectious Disease criteria were monitored until 28 days of life.


Infants with IgG levels < or =4 g/L at birth who received IVIgG had no significant reduction in infectious episodes or mortality rate when compared with those given placebo. However, infants with a serum concentration of IgG >4 g/L at birth had significantly fewer infectious episodes (culture-proven sepsis) than infants with low serum concentrations of IgG (< or =4 g/L) when compared at the same gestational ages (26 to 29 weeks, P <.003).


Prophylactic immunotherapy with IVIgG did not improve the immune competence in preterm infants with low serum IgG concentrations at birth. We speculate that a spontaneously high serum IgG concentration at birth reflects placenta function and is an indicator of a more mature immune system capable of protecting the preterm infant against severe neonatal infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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