Development of the immune system in very low birth weight (less than 1500 g) premature infants: concentrations of plasma immunoglobulins and patterns of infections

Pediatr Res. 1986 Sep;20(9):899-904. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198609000-00019.


Plasma immunoglobulin concentrations of premature infants of birth weight less than 1500 g were measured longitudinally from birth to 10 months chronological age. Infants were divided into two groups based on gestational age (group I: 25-28 wk; group II: 29-32 wk). In the 1st wk of life, plasma IgG levels correlated with gestational age (r = 0.5, p less than 0.001). At 3 months chronological age, the geometric mean plasma IgG levels were 60 mg/dl in group I and 104 mg/dl in group II infants. Most infants remained hypogammaglobulinemic at 6 months with seven of 11 infants in group I and 13 of 21 infants in group II having plasma IgG levels below 200 mg/dl. In the 1st wk of life, plasma IgM concentrations were 7.6 and 9.1 mg/dl in groups I and II, respectively. They rose to 41.8 and 34.7 by 8 to 10 months of life. Plasma IgA concentrations were comparable for groups I and II in the 1st wk of life (1.2 and 0.6 mg/dl, respectively), but at 1 month of age group I infants had a transient increase in IgA which was not seen in the group II infants (4.5 versus 1.9 mg/dl, respectively, p less than 0.02). This transient elevation in IgA did not correlate with type or route of feeding or amounts of transfused blood. Group I and group II infants had comparable rates of infections prior to discharge from the nursery (p = 0.27). After discharge, the 43 preterm infants followed until 10 months chronological age had a significantly higher incidence of infections than 41 term infants (p = 0.04).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Longitudinal Studies


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulins