Prolonged intravenous immunoglobulin treatment in very low birth weight infants with late onset sepsis


BACKGROUND: Neonatal infections are a leading cause of morbi-mortality despite advances in antimicrobials and neonatal care. Preterm infants have greater susceptibility to sepsis due to an immature immune system and lower immunoglobulin levels. Intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) have been used in several studies as an adjuvant treatment to improve this physiological immune deficiency, with different outcomes.

METHODS: Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants who developed sepsis in the neonatal ICU were studied. They were randomly divided in 2 groups: one group was treated with antibiotics (Group I), and the other received antibiotics plus a 500 mg/kg/day of IVIG during 7 days (Group II). Serum IgG concentration was determined at initiation, during and after treatment Group I, and daily during the 7 days of therapy in Group II.

RESULTS: The baseline IgG concentration in group II was 486 g/dL, and increased to 852 mg/dL after the first dose of IVIG (p < 0.01). After the seventh day of infusion a mean IgG level of 1898 mg/dL was achieved. A direct correlation (r = 0.94) between IgG concentration and days of treatment was observed. Blood cultures were positive in 70% of the infants in group I and 75.5% in group II. Staphylococcus epidermidis was the most frequent isolated bacteria in blood cultures. The lethality rate was 25.0% in group I and 5.0% in Group II (p < 0.03). We did not observe collateral effects with the administration of IVIG.

CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged therapy with IVIG seems to be safe and effective as an adjuvant treatment in VLBW infants with sepsis.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr. Aldo Bancalari, José María Santander 427, Lonco Ray, Chiguayante, Biobio, Chile. Tel.: +56 41 2340057; E-mail: