Background: Although intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG) therapy has been reported in hyperbilirubinemia of Rh hemolytic disease, its use in ABO hemolytic disease has been reported in only a few studies. In our institute we have observed that almost 30% of babies with hyperbilirubinemia due to ABO hemolytic disease required exchange transfusion.
Objective: To determine whether administration of IVIG to newborns with significant hyperbilirubinemia due to ABO hemolytic disease would reduce the need for exchange transfusion as a primary goal in these babies.
Design: This was a prospective study involving all newborns with significant hyperbilirubinemia due to direct Coombs-positive ABO hemolytic disease.
Methods: All healthy term babies with ABO hemolytic disease with positive direct Coombs test in the period between 2000 and 2002 were identified. Significant hyperbilirubinemia was defined as hyperbilirubinemia requiring phototherapy and/or rising by 8.5 micromol/l per h (0.5 mg/dl per h) or more to require exchange transfusion. Babies were randomly assigned into two groups: group 1 (study group) received phototherapy plus IVIG (500 mg/kg); and group 2 (control group) received phototherapy alone. Exchange transfusion was carried out in any group if at any time the bilirubin level reached 340 micromol/l (20 mg/dl) or more, or rose by 8.5 micromol/l per h (0.5 mg/dl per h) in group 2.
Results: A total of 112 babies were enrolled over 2 years, 56 in each group. Exchange transfusion was carried out in four babies in the study group, while 16 babies in the control group required exchange. Late anemia was not of concern in either group. No adverse effects related to IVIG administration were recorded.
Conclusion: Administration of IVIG to newborns with significant hyperbilirubinemia due to ABO hemolytic disease with positive direct Coomb's test reduces the need for exchange transfusion without producing immediate adverse effects.