Palivizumab Following Extremely Premature Birth Does Not Affect Pulmonary Outcomes in Adolescence

Chest. 2020 Aug;158(2):660-669. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.02.075. Epub 2020 Apr 13.


Background: Prematurity is a risk factor for impaired lung function. We sought to assess the long-term effect of palivizumab immunization and extreme prematurity (<29 weeks gestation) on respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function in adolescence.

Research question: What is the long-term effect of palivizumab immunization and extreme prematurity (<29 weeks) on respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function in adolescence?

Study design and methods: We examined survivors of extreme prematurity (<29 weeks gestation) at 13 to 18 years of age (study group). Study group babies who were born immediately before palivizumab immunization (nonpalivizumab group [NPG]) were compared with those babies who were born just after implementation (PG) and with a control group. For study group patients, lung function in adolescence was further compared longitudinally with that at primary school age.

Results: Sixty-four adolescents aged 15.76 ± 1.52 years were included: 46 in the study group (17 PG and 29 NPG) and 18 in the control group. For the study group, wheezing episodes, inhaler use, and hospitalizations were uncommon. For the study group compared with the control group, FEV1 percent predicted was 82.60% ± 13.54% vs 105.83% ± 13.12% (P < .001), and the lung clearance index was 7.67 ± 1.02 vs 7.46 ± 0.70 (P = .48), respectively. Study group adolescents with bronchopulmonary dysplasia had a higher lung clearance index than did adolescents with no bronchopulmonary dysplasia (7.94 ± 1.11 vs 7.20 ± 0.60; P = .002). PG and NPG adolescents were not significantly different. Comparing the study group in adolescence with primary school age, we found improvement in mean FEV1 percent predicted bronchodilator response (0.37% ± 9.98% vs 5.67% ± 9.87%; P = .036) and mean provocative concentration causing 20% decline in FEV1 (12.16 ± 4.71 mg/mL vs 4.14 ± 4.51 mg/mL, respectively; P < .001).

Interpretation: Palivizumab did not provide any discernable long-term protective effect. Nevertheless, adolescent survivors of extreme prematurity showed good clinical and physiologic outcomes, except for mildly raised lung clearance index in patients with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Airway hyperreactivity detected at primary school age, decreased by adolescence.

Keywords: bronchopulmonary dysplasia; lung clearance index; prematurity; pulmonary function; respiratory syncytial virus.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung
  • Palivizumab
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Palivizumab