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Rh incompatibility causes and concerns

Rh incompatibility causes and concerns

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There are several factors that are characteristic to an individual human being. Gender, physiology and psychology are just being few of the features that distinguish a person from the other. Blood group is yet another important characteristic that is typical of a person. Our blood groups, A, B, AB and O, combined with the Rh factor( positive or negative), forms one of the unique characteristic.

Monday, September 4th, 2017

What is Rh factor?

Rh factor is a protein that is found in red blood cells (RBC). A baby is said to be Rh positive if her Rh factor is present across her RBC. Similarly, sheis Rh negative if there is no Rh on her RBC. The presence of Rh factor in blood is entirely genetic. Most of the babies are Rh positive.

What is Rh incompatibility in blood?

Rh factor acts as an antigen in blood.

The most common cause of Rh incompatibility is the contact of Rh-ve maternal blood and Rh +vefoetal blood. If the mother is Rh -ve and the father is Rh +ve, -the mother may carry an Rh +ve fetus. Normally the foetal red cells containing the Rh antigen cannot mix with the maternal blood. But in association with certain complications or procedures as in abortion or bleeding during pregnancy there is chance of fetomaternal bleed. This is much more likely during third stage of labor and caesarean section. So theincompatibility affects more commonly, subsequent pregnancies than the first pregnancy.As a consequence of such ruptures, blood from the foetus may leak into the body of the mother and release Rh +ve antigen. This can further cause the production of antibodies against the foreign Rh antigen. Due to this antigen-antibody activity, there results Rh incompatibility and a miscarriage may happen.

Maternal Rh immune-globulinG (IgG) antibodies remain in the maternal immune system once they are produced . It can laterrecognise the Rh antigen in any subsequent Rh +ve pregnancies. The antibodies may then cross freely from the placenta to the foetal circulation. There, they form antigen-antibody complexes with Rh +vefoetal RBC’s. These are eventually destroyed, resulting in foetal hemolytic anemia and in some cases, abortion.

What is its effect on the baby?

Rh incompatibility majorly affects the foetus. As a consequence of hemolysis( breakdown of haemoglobin), large amounts of bilirubin are produced in the baby. This bilirubin is then transferred to the maternal circulation via the placenta where it is excreted out. However, if the Rh incompatible baby is delivered, the large amounts of bilirubin may cause severe jaundice. The levels of severity may, though, vary largely.

Mildly affected babies: Little or no anaemia is seen and may show only high levels of bilirubin. This is due to the continuing hemolytic effect of Rh antibodies that have crossed the placenta.

Moderately affected infants: They may show a combination of anemia and jaundice.In severe cases of foetal hyper-bilirubinemia, neurological disorder develops due to deposition of bilirubin into nervous tissues that may causehypotonia( low muscle tone) , hearing loss, and mental retardation.

Erythroblastosisfetalis: This is another serious complication arising due to Rh incompatibility. It is characterized by severe hemolytic anemia and jaundice. The more serious states may be fatal.

How to prevent Rh incompatibility?

Rh incompatibility is genetic. The complications it leads to can though be prevented by timely diagnosis and intervention. If mother is Rh negative, she needs to be extra vigilant get aRh compatibility test done.

Proper screening and care can cure:With proper prenatal care and screening, you can prevent the complications arising due to Rh incompatibility. Screening tests allow your doctor to find out early in your pregnancy whether you’re at risk for the condition.

Two tests is the norm:Usually the Rh-compatibility test is conducted twice during pregnancy. If the mother is sensitized during last pregnancy, antibodies are found in the early stage of next pregnancy. If the test is negative, a second test may be planned at a later stage in pregnancy so as to rule out the possibility of antigen-antibody reaction later in pregnancy. Although, antibodies can sometimes appear at a later stage in first pregnancy.

If you’re at risk, your doctor carefully checks on you and your baby throughout your pregnancy and prescribes treatment as needed.

Rh incompatibility can be prevented by timely diagnosis and treatment and even after the birth of the baby, extra medical care is needed for the baby to prevent any late antigen-antibody reactions and to treat anaemia, jaundice and immunodeficiency.

At the birth of the baby who is Rh +ve, the mother receives Anti D injection to prevent complications in the subsequent pregnancy due to Rh incompatibility.

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