Aim: Palivizumab (Synagis®) was registered in Sweden in 1999 for prophylaxis against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in premature infants. The high costs and the limited knowledge of the efficacy of this substance have led to debate about how and when it should be used. National guidelines for the use of palivizumab in Sweden were constructed in the year 2000. The aim of this study was to evaluate the guidelines. Methods: A nation-wide prospective study was conducted during the two RSV seasons of the years 2000–2002. The paediatric departments in Sweden reported the use of palivizumab, the indication for its use, and the number of infants born preterm before 36 wk of gestation and less than 2 y old who were admitted to hospital for RSV infection. Results: During the two seasons, 218 (3.8%) children who were born before 36 wk of gestation, and 97 (5.4%) who were born before 33 wk, were hospitalized because of RSV infection. Five children were treated with mechanical ventilation. No death caused by RSV was reported. A total of 390 children were treated with palivizumab, and 16 (4.1%) of those who received prophylactic treatment were admitted to hospital with RSV infection.
Conclusion: We consider the comparatively restrictive Swedish recommendations to be safe and recommend that palivizumab should also be used very restrictively in the future. In our opinion, palivizumab in preterm children could be recommended only for those with chronic lung disease younger than 1 y of age, and with active treatment for their disease.