Characteristics of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in neonates: a nationwide survey in Japan

Nobuhiro Suzuki, Akira Morimoto, Shouichi Ohga, Kazuko Kudo, Yasushi Ishida, Eiichi Ishii
Journal of Pediatrics 2009, 155 (2): 235-8.e1

OBJECTIVE: To assess the etiology, prognosis, and appropriate treatment of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in neonates.

STUDY DESIGN: We collected information on neonates in whom HLH was diagnosed between 1997 and 2007 from participating members of the Japanese Society of Pediatric Hematology.

RESULTS: HLH was diagnosed in 20 patients within 4 weeks after birth. Of the diagnostic criteria for HLH-2004, the incidence of fever was quite low in preterm infants, and hypertriglyceridemia and neutropenia were uncommon. Familial HLH (n = 6) or severe combined immunodeficiency-associated HLH (n = 1) was diagnosed in 7 patients, and 2 of them have survived. Herpes simplex virus-associated HLH was diagnosed in 6 patients, and 2 of them have survived. The overall survival rate for the 20 patients was 40%.

CONCLUSIONS: HLH is rare in neonates and has a poor prognosis. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment are required when considering the possibility of herpes simplex virus-associated or familial HLH.

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