Maternal chickenpox around the time of delivery can cause severe and even fatal illness in the newborn but an effectively preventive method has not yet been established. We proposed that a combination of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and acyclovir (ACV) intravenously could effectively prevent perinatal varicella. A group of 24 newborn infants whose mother had developed a varicella rash within 14 days before and after delivery were studied. Some 15 infants whose mothers' rash appeared within 7 days before and 5 days after delivery were categorised as an at-risk group and received IVIG prophylaxis (500 mg/kg) administered soon after birth or post-natal contact either alone or with intravenous acyclovir (5 mg/kg every 8 h) for a total of 5 days starting from 7 days after the onset of maternal rash. Of four infants receiving IVIG alone, two developed clinical varicella. None of ten infants receiving both IVIG and ACV contracted varicella. One infant receiving ACV alone had no varicella vesicles either. Of nine infants in the not at-risk group four had undetectable varicella-zoster virus antibody on admission and developed clinical varicella subsequently. Conclusion: The combination of intravenous immunoglobulin given soon after birth and prophylactic acyclovir intravenously administered 7 days after the onset of maternal rash can effectively prevent perinatal varicella.
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