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I am rhesus-negative. How can I protect my unborn child?

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd April 2011 03:00 AM

WHEN you are pregnant, it is important to know whether your blood is rhesus-positive (Rh+) or rhesus-negative (Rh-), and whether your partner is Rh- too. If he is not, your baby will have a blood group which is not compatible with yours and this can cause problems.

WHEN you are pregnant, it is important to know whether your blood is rhesus-positive (Rh+) or rhesus-negative (Rh-), and whether your partner is Rh- too. If he is not, your baby will have a blood group which is not compatible with yours and this can cause problems.

Dear Doctor,
I am aged 28. My blood group is O rhesus-negative. A lab technician told me it would be hard to have a baby with someone who is rhesus-positive. But rhesus-negative men are rare. Are there any drugs for someone of my status that can be taken during pregnancy to protect the unborn child? What can I do?
Susan
Dear Susan,
WHEN you are pregnant, it is important to know whether your blood is rhesus-positive (Rh+) or rhesus-negative (Rh-), and whether your partner is Rh- too. If he is not, your baby will have a blood group which is not compatible with yours and this can cause problems.

If the blood of anyone who is Rh- comes into contact with Rh+ blood, it reacts as ‘foreign’ and develops antibodies to the Rh+ cells, killing them.

This works in much the same way as when your blood develops antibodies to the cells of viruses, like a cold and flu, in order to destroy them. If an Rh- woman has a Rh+ partner, it is very likely that their baby will be Rh+.

This means that if her blood comes into contact with her baby’s, she will develop antibodies to it.
This is more likely to happen when the baby is being born, as some of its blood may get into contact with the mother’s.

It can also happen if she has a miscarriage or a termination. If it does happen, the woman will produce antibodies to the Rh+ blood. This may not affect her first baby, but the antibodies will stay in her blood and if she becomes pregnant again, problems can arise.

Fortunately, rhesus factor problems are almost entirely preventable. Women who are Rh- are routinely given an injection of a substance called Anti-D shortly after the baby is born (or after a miscarriage or termination).

This destroys any Rh+ cells that may have got into the bloodstream so that they do not produce any more antibodies. In some areas, Anti-D is given to Rh- women during pregnancy, but this is not routinely done everywhere.

So it is important to inform your obstetrician about your blood type as early as possible.

I am rhesus-negative. How can I protect my unborn child?

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