Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (NAIT) is a potentially devastating disease that may lead to intracranial hemorrhage in the fetus or neonate, often with death or major neurologic damage. There are no routine screening programs for NAIT, preventive measures are taken only in a subsequent pregnancy. To estimate the population incidence of NAIT and its consequences, we conducted a review of the literature. Our results may aid in the design of a screening program.
An electronic literature search included Medline, Embase, Cochrane database and references of retrieved articles. Eligible for inclusion were all prospective studies aimed at diagnosing NAIT in a general, nonselected newborn population, with sufficient information on platelet count at birth, bleeding complications, and treatment. Titles and abstracts were reviewed, followed by review of full text publications. Studies were independently assessed by 2 reviewers for methodologic quality. Disagreements were resolved by consensus, including a third reviewer.
From the initial 768 studies, 21 remained for full text analysis, 6 of which met the inclusion criteria. In total, 59 425 newborns were screened, with severe thrombocytopenia in 89 cases (0.15%). NAIT was diagnosed in 24 of these 89 newborns (27%). In 6 (25%) of these cases, an intracranial hemorrhage was found, all likely of antenatal origin.
NAIT is among the most important causes of neonatal thrombocytopenia. Intracranial hemorrhage due to NAIT occurs in 10 per 100 000 neonates, commonly before birth. Screening for NAIT might be effective but should be done antenatally.