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Immune Globulin for Intravenous Use

Your child needs to take the medicine called immune globulin (say: ih-MUNE GLOB-yoo-lin). This information sheet explains what immune globulin does, how to give it, and what side effects or problems your child may have when he or she takes this medicine.

What is immune globulin?

Immune globulin is a blood product that contains antibodies.

Immune globulin will help your child’s immune system prevent and fight infections. It may also be used to treat other diseases, such as Kawasaki disease, immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), Guillain Barré syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. Your child’s doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of immune globulin with you.

You may hear immune globulin called IVIG, IGIV, gamma globulin, Gamimune®, or Iveegam®. Immune globulin comes in an injection form.

Before giving immune globulin to your child

Tell your child’s doctor if your child has:

  • an allergy to immune globulin products

Talk with your child’s doctor or pharmacist if your child has any of the following conditions.

Precautions may need to be taken with this medicine if your child has:

  • a history of blood clotting problems
  • diabetes mellitus
  • heart problems
  • kidney problems
  • immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency

How will your child get immune globulin?

A nurse will inject immune globulin from a needle into your child’s vein. Usually your child will get this medicine in the hospital clinic or in the nursing unit.

What are the possible side effects of immune globulin?

Your child may have some of these side effects while he or she is getting immune globulin. Call the nurse if your child has any of these signs or symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • trouble breathing, shortness of breath
  • blue lips and fingernails
  • swelling of the legs and ankles
  • swelling of the eyes, face, ears
  • hives (raised, red, itchy areas on the skin)

Most of the following side effects are not common, but they may be a sign of a serious problem.

Tell the nurse or doctor right away if your child has any of these side effects. If you are no longer at the hospital, call the doctor right away if your child has:

  • stiff neck
  • fever, chills
  • severe headache
  • severe nausea and vomiting
  • painful eye movements
  • eyes sensitive to light
  • drowsiness
  • red or dark brown urine

What safety measures should you take when your child is using immune globulin?

Keep all appointments at the clinic or doctor’s office so that your doctor can check your child’s response to immune globulin. The doctor may order blood tests to check your child’s kidneys.

Your child may not get the full benefit from certain immunizations (vaccinations or shots) for up to 11 months after he or she has had immune globulin. Ask your doctor how long your child should wait before getting these immunizations:

  • measles, alone or as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • varicella (chickenpox)

Tell your doctor if your child has had any of the above immunizations in the last 14 days before getting immune globulin.

What other important information should you know about immune globulin?

Keep a list of all medications your child is on and show the list to the doctor or pharmacist.

Keep medicine out of your child’s sight and reach and locked up in a safe place. If your child takes too much medicine, call the Ontario Poison Centre at one of these numbers. These calls are free.

  • Call 416-813-5900 if you live in Toronto.
  • Call 1-800-268-9017 if you live somewhere else in Ontario.
  • If you live outside of Ontario, call your local poison information centre.

Disclaimer: The information in this Family Med-aid is accurate at the time of printing. It provides a summary of information about immune globulin and does not contain all possible information about this medicine. Not all side effects are listed. If you have any questions or want more information about immune globulin, speak to your health care provider.

  Elaine Lau, BScPhm, PharmD, MSc, RPh