RH is an abbreviation of the word rhesus. Every person is born with an RH blood type which can be either RH positive or RH negative. More than 85 percent of people are RH positive. RH incompatibility occurs when you are RH negative and your baby is RH positive. If this happens and any of your babies blood gets into your blood stream, you can develop antibodies to the RH positive blood which then enter the circulation of your baby attacking his blood cells. This can cause anemia in your growing baby which can be harmful and requires a blood transfusion. If you are RH positive or you and your partner are both RH negative, you have no reason to worry about RH incompatibility. However, if you are RH negative, and your partner is RH positive, your baby could inherit his fathers blood causing RH incompatibility. Your first baby is usually safe with RH incompatibility as your blood is unlikely to mix until birth. However, after birth, you could develop antibodies in your system which could then go on to affect subsequent pregnancies.
Diagnosis RH Blood Group Incompatibility
Your health care provider will routinely test your blood to find out what blood group you are and for RH antibodies. If you are found to be RH negative with an RH negative partner, your blood will be checked regularly for antibodies. If antibodies are found, you may have to undergo an amniocentesis to see if your baby is anemic and how severe the anemia is.
Prevention of RH Blood Group Incompatibility
RH incompatibility is relatively rare. However, if it is found, your doctor will inject you with a drug called Rhogam. Rhogam prevents your body from developing antibodies to your babies blood, therefore preventing anemia developing in your baby. You will be given an extra injection of Rhogam after your baby is born to prevent your RH status from affecting future pregnancies.
Treatment of RH Blood Group Incompatibility
If an amniocentesis shows that your baby has developed severe anemia, he may have to have a blood transfusion in the uterus via the placenta. The procedure itself is risky and is normally performed only after 18 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors often prefer to induce early labor than to perform this procedure and do the blood transfusion after birth.
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