Fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia: prenatal interventions

Prenat Diagn. 2011 Jul;31(7):712-9. doi: 10.1002/pd.2779. Epub 2011 May 26.


Fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FNAIT) is a potentially devastating condition, which may lead to intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) in the fetus or neonate, often with death or major neurological damage as consequence. In the absence of screening, preventive measures are only possible in the next pregnancy of women with an affected child. Controversy exists on the best intervention to minimise the risk of ICH. Most centres have abandoned treatment with serial fetal blood sampling (FBS) and platelet transfusions, because of a high rate of complications and the availability of quite effective non-invasive alternatives. In pregnancies with FNAIT and a previous affected child without ICH, weekly intravenous administration of immunoglobulins to the mother appears close to 100% effective to prevent fetal or neonatal ICH. Some centres add prednisone; this combination leads to slightly higher platelet counts at birth. In pregnant women with a previous child with ICH, the recurrence risk seems particularly high, and more aggressive maternal medical treatment is recommended, starting earlier with immunoglobulins. Whether a higher intravenous immunoglobulin dose or the addition of prednisone is really necessary is unclear. What does seem to be clear is that the use of FBS should be minimised, possibly even abandoned completely.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Fetal Diseases / etiology
  • Fetal Diseases / therapy*
  • Fetal Therapies / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Platelet Transfusion / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombocytopenia, Neonatal Alloimmune / diagnosis
  • Thrombocytopenia, Neonatal Alloimmune / etiology
  • Thrombocytopenia, Neonatal Alloimmune / therapy*