Immunoglobulin (also called gamma globulin
or immune globulin) is a substance made from human blood plasma. The plasma,
processed from donated human blood, contains
antibodies that protect the body against diseases.
When you are given an immunoglobulin, your body uses antibodies from other
people's blood plasma to help prevent illness. And even though immunoglobulins
are obtained from blood, they are purified so that they can't pass on diseases
to the person who receives them.
Specific types of immunoglobulin
are made to protect against specific diseases, such as
measles. Immunoglobulin injections may:
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Help people who have
an inherited problem making their own antibodies or those who are having
treatment for certain types of cancer (such as
leukemia). Treatments for some cancers can cause the
body to stop producing its own antibodies, making immunoglobulin treatment
You may be given an immunoglobulin if you are exposed to certain infectious diseases, such as
measles. The immunoglobulin may prevent or reduce the
severity of the illness if given shortly after exposure. The time period during
which an injection provides this benefit ranges from days to months, depending
on the disease.
Immunoglobulins do not provide long-term
protection in the same way as a traditional vaccine. The protection they
provide is short-term, usually lasting a few months. It is still possible to
get the disease after the immunoglobulin has worn off.
Rh-negative woman becomes pregnant with an Rh-positive
fetus (which can occur when the father's blood is
Rh-positive), the pregnant woman's immune system makes
antibodies that can destroy the fetus's blood in a
future pregnancy. This antibody response is called
Rh sensitization and occurs only if the fetus's blood
mixes with the pregnant woman's, which can happen during birth.
prevent Rh sensitization during pregnancy, you must have an Rh immunoglobulin
injection if you are Rh-negative. This is done during your pregnancy and after
delivery to protect the fetus of a future pregnancy.