The role of polyclonal intravenous immunoglobulin in treating HIV-infected children with severe bacterial infections: A retrospective cohort study

BACKGROUND:Mortality among HIV-infected children in developing countries remains high after serious bacterial infections despite the use of antibiotics. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has been used as an adjuvant therapy to treat these infections, but little data exists regarding its efficacy, and previous studies have focused on IVIG as a prophylactic agent. We examined the impact of IVIG as an adjuvant therapy in reducing mortality and length of hospital stay in HIV-infected children with serious bacterial infections. METHODS: This retrospective study focused on pediatric admissions at a large urban hospital between 2002 and 2006. Children between the ages of one month and nine years of age with laboratory confirmed HIV-status, serious bacterial infection, no prior exposure to IVIG, and a hospital length of stay of 5 days or more, were eligible for inclusion. RESULTS: A total of 140 children (median age 1.2 years) met inclusion criteria; lower respiratory tract infection was diagnosed in 94 (67%) of the children, while 74 (53%) had bacterial sepsis. Fifty-four (39%) children were receiving antiretroviral therapy and 39 (28%) were receiving tuberculosis treatment. Overall 73 (52%) were treated with IVIG, with the majority (74%) of children receiving a single dose. Thirteen (9%) died during their hospital admission. In crude analysis IVIG was significantly associated with increased mortality was (Odds Ratio (OR): 5.8; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.2-27.1) and this association was weakened by adjustment for other predictors of mortality (OR 4.3, 95% CI 0.7-27.9, p = 0.123). IVIG use was also associated with longer hospital stays. CONCLUSION: Administration of one to three doses of IVIG during the acute phase of illness does not appear to reduce mortality or the length of hospital stays in HIV-infected children with serious bacterial infections. However, the retrospective nature of this study makes confounding by indication difficult to control and further studies regarding the timing, dosing, and method of administration are required. Nonetheless the routine use of IVIG in resource-limited settings should be carefully considered given its high cost.