May 2008

It’s been a very long time since we last posted here. And there’s been a lot happening! The biggest news is that Mary is pregnant again, now about 23 weeks, and everything is going fine. You can see more ultrasound images here.

It’s also been exciting to be in contact once again with Dr Whitington and hear of the more recent progress in the research. See my comments on his recent paper here.

Mary’s going through the treatment again, and it’s running quite a bit smoother compared to last time. Though it’s no walk in the park. While using Intragam makes the infusion go a lot quicker, there’s still a lot of headaches and needles and time spent in hospitals. Also interestingly, for other people with NH experience, Dr Whitington’s protocol has changed somewhat since Mary underwent the treatment with Harry. Instead of starting at 18 weeks, Mary commenced at 14 weeks, and then had the second treatment at 16 weeks, before the weekly treatments started at week 18. This is based on a theory that damage to the foetus could start earlier than previously thought.

Apologies for the long break between posts. We’ll update you on our progress in the not too distant future.


Dr Peter Whitington and Susan Kelly have just had their latest research published in Pediatrics.  I’ve summarised the key points from the abstract below, and if your lucky this link may take you to a pdf version of the complete article.

Whitington P & Kelly S, 2008, “Outcome of Pregnancies at Risk for Neonatal Hemochromatosis Is Improved by Treatment With High-Dose Intravenous Immunoglobulin”, Pediatrics published online May 12, 2008; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2007-3107

In summary the article builds upon his earlier work (see my posts here, here and here) .  The number of women involved in his study has increase to 48 (including Mary!) treated over 53 pregnancies.   The histories of the women demonstrated the high risk of occurrence of neonatal hemochromatosis: 92% of pregnancies ended badly, or in the papers words “resulted in intrauterine fetal demise, neonatal death, or liver failure necessitating transplant”.  “In contrast, with gestational therapy, the 53 at-risk gestations resulted in 3 failures and 52 infants who survived intact with medical therapy alone. When compared on a per-woman or per-infant basis, the outcome of gestation at risk for neonatal hemochromatosis was improved by gestational therapy.

The paper concludes that neonatal hemochromatosis seems to be the result of a gestational alloimmune disease, and occurrence of severe neonatal hemochromatosis in at-risk pregnancies can be significantly reduced by treatment with high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin during gestation.

We hear from people reasonably regularly who have lost children through NH.  We recently heard from about Alice Rowlands  who passed away after 5 days trying to fight the disease.  Miranda has set up a web site in memory of Alice.

It’s terrible and tragic and it reminds us how lucky we are to have Harry and how much we miss Ellen.