Antenatal treatment of neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia

N Engl J Med. 1988 Nov 24;319(21):1374-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198811243192103.


Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia results from the formation of a maternal antibody to a paternal antigen on fetal platelets. Intracranial hemorrhage, which may be antenatal, occurs in approximately 15 to 20 percent of infants with this form of thrombocytopenia. In families with an affected infant, 75 percent of subsequent infants are affected. We report the results of antenatal treatment with intravenous gamma globulin, with or without dexamethasone, in seven pregnant women who had previously had infants who had severe alloimmune thrombocytopenia. The platelet count increased by a mean (+/- SD) of 72.5 +/- 62 x 10(9) per liter in the six fetuses in whom periumbilical blood sampling was performed. All seven treated fetuses had platelet counts above 30 x 10(9) at birth, and none had an intracranial hemorrhage, in contrast to all seven of their respective untreated siblings, who had lower platelet counts and three of whom had intracranial hemorrhages (antenatal in two infants). Mild intrauterine growth retardation was observed in one treated infant; all seven infants have developed normally in the two months to four years since birth. We conclude that intravenous gamma globulin, with or without dexamethasone, is effective in elevating the fetal platelet count in severe cases of neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia and in helping to avoid intracranial hemorrhage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Group Incompatibility / therapy*
  • Blood Platelets / immunology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / prevention & control
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / administration & dosage
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Isoantibodies / analysis
  • Isoantibodies / immunology
  • Isoantigens / immunology
  • Platelet Count
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombocytopenia / prevention & control*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Isoantibodies
  • Isoantigens
  • Dexamethasone