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Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2011 Sep;12(5):580-8. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e3182070990.

Mortality and morbidity among infants at high risk for severe respiratory syncytial virus infection receiving prophylaxis with palivizumab: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Pediatrics, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.



A systematic literature review and meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the impact of prophylaxis with palivizumab on mortality and morbidity associated with respiratory syncytial virus infection in infants at high risk (≤ 35 wks of gestational age, chronic lung disease, or congenital heart disease).


MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Current Contents were used. MEDLINE was searched from January 1, 1990 to May 16, 2007. The bibliographies of accepted studies and recent reviews and proceedings from the past 2 yrs were searched to identify additional relevant studies.


Randomized controlled trials and prospective or retrospective cohort studies evaluating all-cause and respiratory syncytial virus-specific mortality, respiratory syncytial virus hospitalizations, and health care use in infants at high risk for respiratory syncytial virus infection receiving prophylaxis with palivizumab.


Data elements from each accepted study were extracted by one researcher and confirmed by a second researcher. Differences were resolved before data entry and analysis.


A total of 2473 citations were screened and ten comparative studies of palivizumab prophylaxis evaluating >15,000 infants were included. Comparisons of mortality and hospitalization outcomes between infant groups using prophylaxis and not using prophylaxis were made using meta-analyses.


Prophylaxis and nonprophylaxis infant groups appeared to be comparable at baseline. All-cause mortality during the respiratory syncytial virus season was 12 of 6380 (0.19%) for infants with prophylaxis vs. 33 of 8182 (0.53%) for infants without prophylaxis (Peto odds ratio, 0.30; 95% confidence interval, 0.17-0.55). Only five respiratory syncytial virus-specific deaths were reported, and the majority of the studies did not report respiratory syncytial virus-related deaths. The rate of respiratory syncytial virus hospitalization was significantly lower among preterm infants with prophylaxis compared with those without prophylaxis (4.1% vs. 10.4%; odds ratio, 0.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.47). Prophylaxis with palivizumab was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality and respiratory syncytial virus hospitalization among preterm infants at high risk. Additional research on cause of death among infants at high risk is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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