Women should check their blood type as soon as they get pregnant. There are four blood groups namely A, B, AB, and O.
Women can have an Rh factor which is specifically Rhesus D antigen. This is when the proteins appear on the blood surface. The women who have Rh factor are Rh positive (A+, B+, AB+, and O+) and those who are Rh negative (A-, B-, AB- and O) are those who do not have the Rh factor.
The Rh factor, as well as the blood type of any of the parent, can affect the baby’s blood type. This also influences the antibodies that the body of them other makes as a response to immune to the foreign matter in her body. This includes sperm, bacteria or an embryo.
Rh incompatibility is when an Rh negative mother has an Rh positive blood group baby. The body of the mother will start to treat the protein in the baby’s blood as foreign and it will then start to make antibodies to attack it. When the two blood types get mixed this leads to Rhesus disease.
There could be problems too when the mother has an O blood group but the baby is of A or B blood group. The mother’s body will start to produce antibodies against the red blood cells of the baby when the blood of the mother and the baby mixes. This leads to ABO incompatibility.
Is there any risk involved?
When the woman gets pregnant then the baby is protected because the blood of them other does not cross the placenta. However, a small quantity of the baby’s blood could get into the mother’s blood circulation.
There could be instances where the blood of the mother and the baby may get mixed in cases of:
- A miscarriage
- An injury
- A CVS
- In the case of an ectopic pregnancy
In case of any of these, the antibodies will develop and this causes the baby to have jaundice or anemia. If the woman gets pregnant with an Rh-positive blood group baby in the future, her body will start to produce high amounts of antibodies. This is in the case of Rh incompatibility.
The ABO incompatibility, however, does not get serious with subsequent pregnancies. However, it can affect the baby until all the antibodies pass out completely from the baby’s system.
Since it is not possible to find out the blood group of the baby before it is born thus women who are Rh-negative take an anti-D-injection during their pregnancy. This prevents the onset of the Rhesus disease. The Rhesus disease affects between 28 to 34 weeks of pregnancy.
The cord blood helps to find out the blood group of the baby. Another injection is given if the baby is Rhesus positive. If the baby is Rhesus negative then no injections are needed.
There is no preventive measure with ABO incompatibility. If the baby shows any sign of an anemia severe jaundiced after it is born then the baby will be given photo therapy to break down the chemicals in the blood that is causing jaundice. If the baby is very an anemic then it may also need a blood transfusion. This is done immediately after birth to prevent problems that may happen later in life.
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