Immunoglobulin infusion for isoimmune haemolytic jaundice in neonates

Plain language summary will be included with future review update.

Authors' conclusions: 

Although the results show a significant reduction in the need for exchange transfusion in those treated with intravenous immunoglobulin, the applicability of the results is limited. The number of studies and infants included is small and none of the three included studies was of high quality. The protocols of two of the studies mandated the use of early exchange transfusion, limiting the generalizability of the results. Further well designed studies are needed before routine use of intravenous immunoglobulin can be recommended for the treatment of isoimmune haemolytic jaundice.

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Exchange transfusion and phototherapy have traditionally been used to treat jaundice and avoid the associated neurological complications. Exchange transfusion is not without risk and intravenous immunoglobulin has been suggested as an alternative therapy for isoimmune haemolytic jaundice to reduce the need for exchange transfusion.


To assess whether the use of intravenous immunoglobulin, in newborn infants with isoimmune haemolytic jaundice, is effective in reducing the need for exchange transfusion.

Search strategy: 

The search strategy of the Cochrane Neonatal Review group was used. Searches were made of MEDLINE 1966-2002, EMBASE Drugs and Pharmacology 1990-2002, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2002, expert informants, review articles, cross references, and hand searching of abstracts and conference proceedings of the annual meetings of The Society for Pediatric Research 1990-2001 and The European Society for Paediatric Research 1990-2001.

Selection criteria: 

All randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of the use of intravenous immunoglobulin in the treatment of isoimmune haemolytic disease were considered.

Data collection and analysis: 

The standard methods of the Cochrane Collaboration and its Neonatal Review Group were used. Studies were assessed for inclusion and quality by two reviewers working independently, with the second reviewer blinded to trial author, institution and journal of publication. Data were extracted independently by the two reviewers. Any differences of opinion were discussed and a consensus reached. Investigators were contacted for additional or missing information. For categorical outcomes, the relative risk (RR), risk difference (RD) and the number needed to treat (NNT) were calculated. For continuous variables, the weighted mean difference (WMD) was calculated.

Main results: 

Seven studies were identified. Three of these fulfilled the inclusion criteria and included a total of 189 infants. Term and preterm infants and infants with rhesus and ABO incompatibility were included. The use of exchange transfusion decreased significantly in the immunoglobulin treated group (typical RR 0.28, 95% CI 0.17, 0.47; typical RD -0.37, 95% CI -0.49, -0.26; NNT 2.7). The mean number of exchange transfusions per infant was also significantly lower in the immunoglobulin treated group (WMD -0.52, 95% CI -0.70, -0.35). None of the studies assessed long term outcomes.