Intravenous Immunoglobulins as Adjunct Treatment to Phototherapy in Isoimmune Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn: A Retrospective Case-Control Study

Manar Al-lawama, Eman Badran, Ala’ Elrimawi, Amal Bani Mustafa, Haitham Alkhatib


Background: Isoimmune hemolytic disease is a major cause of neonatal severe indirect hyperbilirubinemia that requires phototherapy or exchange transfusion which is an invasive procedure to avoid brain injury. Administration of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is used as an adjunct treatment to phototherapy in order to decrease the rate of exchange transfusion.

Methods: This retrospective case-control study aimed to describe the safety and efficacy of IVIG therapy in newborns with isoimmune hemolytic disease and to compare their clinical outcomes to those of a control group who were treated only with phototherapy. Criteria for IVIG treatment were variable; when phototherapy threshold was reached or when exchange transfusion level was approached, using either indication is based on the attending discretion.

Results: Ninety-four infants were included in the IVIG group, compared to 108 infants in the control group. Most of the included infants were term infants and most common cause was ABO incompatibility. There were no side effects documented in all the included infants. The IVIG group had more severe hemolysis with average highest bilirubin of 14.6 ± 3.7 mg/dL in the IVIG group versus 12.6 ± 3 in the control group (P = 0.0001). Complication of hemolysis was seen more in the IVIG group with higher rate of rebound hyperbilirubinemia, blood transfusion and exchange transfusion.

Conclusions: IVIG use as an adjunct treatment to phototherapy in isoimmune hemolytic disease of the newborns is safe. The favorable results of the phototherapy only group were supportive of using selective criteria for administration of IVIG in neonates with isoimmune hemolytic disease.

J Clin Med Res. 2019;11(11):760-763


Neonate; Intravenous immunoglobulin; Isoimmune hemolytic disease; ABO incompatibility; Rh isoimmunization

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