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Palivizumab Cuts Number of Days of Wheezing in Preemies

WEDNESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- For preterm infants, administration of the monoclonal antibody palivizumab for prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is associated with a significant reduction in the number of days of wheezing during the first year of life, according to a study published in the May 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Maarten O. Blanken, M.D., from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in which healthy preterm infants born at 33 to 35 gestational weeks were randomized to receive monthly palivizumab injections (214 infants) or placebo (215 infants) during the RSV season.

The researchers found that treatment with palivizumab correlated with a 61 percent relative reduction in the total number of wheezing days during the first year of life (1.8 and 4.5 percent of days in the palivizumab and placebo group, respectively). The proportion of infants with recurrent wheeze was significantly lower in palivizumab-treated infants during this time period (11 versus 21 percent; P = 0.01).

"We have shown that the administration of palivizumab for RSV prevention reduced the total number of wheezing days in the first year of life among preterm infants with a gestational age of 33 to 35 weeks," the authors write. "The post-prophylaxis effect of RSV prevention on wheezing illness is evidence that RSV infection is an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of wheezing during the first year of life among late preterm infants."

The study was partially funded by Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of palivizumab.

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