Transient hypogammaglobulinemia of infancy (THI)

Young children (up to school age) may suffer more infections than their peers because their immune system is slow to develop; this is known as transient hypogammaglobulinemia. Many children are referred to paediatricians for considerations of excess infections. If an immune deficiency is suspected, the child will have a blood test to look for antibodies to previous immunisations. Nearly all children will have good levels of antibodies even if the levels of the protein families (known as immunoglobulins) may be below the normal range for healthy children of the same age.

Provided that the antibodies are present or that they are present following further immunisations, transient hypogammaglobulinemia of infancy can be ruled out.

Fortunately, most of those children who have low antibodies, and therefore transient hypogammaglobulinemia of infancy, do get better quite quickly and most only need to take preventative antibiotics for a year or two. However, a small minority may need immunoglobulin treatment that can usually be stopped at some point so that the function of their immune system can be reassessed to see if they still need this treatment.

This page was reviewed by the Medical Advisory Panel April 2013.