Article Text

Download PDFPDF
T and Tk antigen activation in necrotising enterocolitis: manifestations, severity of illness, and effectiveness of testing


AIMS To determine if T or Tk antigen activation is associated with different and more severe manifestations of illness in infants with necrotising enterocolitis (NEC); and if a policy of testing infants with suspected sepsis or NEC for T and Tk antigen activation is effective.

METHODS A case–control study of infants with confirmed NEC, born after the introduction of screening, was undertaken:17 activated infants were compared with 28 non-activated controls, matched for gestation and weight. A historical control study compared the outcome of infants before and after the introduction of testing.

RESULTS Of 201 infants with confirmed NEC, 27 were T or Tk antigen activated—10 (9%) before and 17 (19%) after the introduction of testing. T or Tk antigen activated infants had a significantly higher mortality (35%vs 7%); more frequent (71%vs 21%) and severe haemolysis, hyperkalaemia, renal impairment, acidosis; and they received more colloid for resuscitation. While only known activated infants in both time periods were managed with the use of low titre T antibody blood products, there was a significant increase in mortality (odds ratios 2.6; 95% CI 1.2, 5.6) and incidence of surgery (OR 2.7; 1.5, 4.9) after the introduction of testing. The increased mortality (OR 2.6; 0.8, 5.2) and incidence of surgery (OR 1.8; 0.9, 3.7) were no longer significant after adjustment for several perinatal risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS In a retrospective case–control study, routine testing of at risk infants increased the detection rate of T and Tk antigen activation. The use of low titre T plasma products in these patients did not reduce mortality compared with historical controls. A randomised controlled trial of testing in at risk infants, or of the use of low titre T plasma products in babies with NEC and T activation, is warranted.

  • necrotising enterocolitis
  • polyagglutination
  • T antigen
  • Tk antigen

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.