Respiratory syncytial virus immunoprophylaxis in high-risk infants with heart disease

J Paediatr Child Health. 2012 May;48(5):395-401. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02219.x.


Aim: Passive immunisation with palivizumab is recommended in many countries for children with haemodynamically significant cardiac disease. We trialled respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunoprophylaxis in such infants during 2008–2009.

Methods: We identified all RSV admissions between 2005–2009 and examined all patients with significant cardiac disease who received palivizumab in 2008–2009.

Results: Infants with symptomatic cardiac disease had a more complicated course of RSV bronchiolitis with longer hospital stay, more frequent intensive care admission, longer intensive care stay and were more likely to receive respiratory support (all P < 0.05). One hundred seventeen infants with symptomatic cardiac disease received palivizumab. Of these, two (1.7%) required admission for RSV bronchiolitis. Overall, there was a reduction in admission of infants with symptomatic cardiac disease with RSV bronchiolitis in 2008–2009 (2% per year) compared with 2005–2007 (5–9% per year; P < 0.03). The number of patients with symptomatic cardiac disease who required intensive care for RSV bronchiolitis in the same period was unchanged, as a number presented to our service with RSV infection prior to commencing immunoprophylaxis or having had their cardiac diagnosis made in other centres.

Conclusions: Compared with other infants, those with haemodynamically significant cardiac disease have a more complicated course of illness with RSV bronchiolitis. In these infants, palivizumab reduced the number of hospitalisations because of RSV. Cohorting patients for maximal palivizumab use reduced overall cost. To significantly impact on intensive care admissions overall, immunoprophylaxis should be considered at a regional level.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / complications*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / complications*
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications*
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Palivizumab
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Victoria


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Palivizumab