A recent, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial has demonstrated the effectiveness of palivizumab (Synagis®) for prophylaxis against infection by the respiratory syncytial virus in 1,287 young children with congenital cardiac disease. Guidelines for the use of palivizumab in these children considered to be at high risk were published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, followed by similar guidelines from the British Paediatric Cardiac Association, and recommendations from a number of other individual countries, including Canada, Germany, Spain, and France.
In May, 2004, further discussion was held between a group of 15 paediatric cardiologists at a European forum for clinical management held in Munich, Germany. The objective of this forum was to define optimal recommendations on prevention of infection by the respiratory syncytial virus in infants and young children with congenital cardiac disease, appropriate to the clinical needs and style of those practising in paediatrics in individual countries. Participants were invited because of their knowledge of the therapeutic area, and for their experience of using palivizumab for prophylaxis against the respiratory syncytial virus in children with congenitally malformed hearts. Measures to educate the carers of children with such congenital malformations on precautions against infection by the respiratory syncytial virus were discussed, along with the many different aspects of best practice for therapeutic prophylaxis with palivizumab. The most appropriate timing of prophylaxis, recommendations for which children are most likely to benefit from prophylaxis, and suggested protocols were among the issues covered. The recommendations resulting from the discussions are presented in this paper, as a step towards reaching consensus.