What It Means to be Rh Negative: Rare Blood and Pregnant Women

When a pregnant women is Rh-negative there can be complications that many women aren’t aware of. Many women are confused when they go in for a routine checkup in the first trimester to learn that they are Rh- negative.

What It Means To be Rh-Negative

An Rh-negative mother can make antibodies against Rh-positive blood cells, even against those of her own baby. When this happens it is Rh sensitization. These antibodies have the potential to cross the placenta and attack the babies’ red blood cells if some of the babies’ blood enters into the mother’s bloodstream. The mother’s immune system sees these cells as foreign and creates an immune response, which can cause anemia, congestive heart failure, hemolytic disease and even fetal death. This can all be preventable with a medicine called Rhogam.

RhogamRhogam is an injection that blocks the mother’s immune system from seeing the fetal cells. The mother then won’t make any antibodies against them. It is given to all Rh negative women whose babies might be Rh positive. The baby may be Rh-positive if the babies father is Rh-positive. If both parents are Rh-negative, they can only have Rh-negative offspring. Only a small percentage of the world’s population is Rh-negative.

When Rhogam is Given

The Rhogam injection is given at times during the pregnancy when there is a possibility of Rh-positive fetal blood getting into the mother’s bloodstream such as miscarriage, elective termination, when the mom is 26 weeks along, and after delivery. The babies’ blood type is taken at birth and if the baby is Rh-negative the Rhogam injection is not necessary.

Rh-sentization is Now RareBecause of the Rhogam injection, Rh-sentization is now quite rare. If it does occur it will be detected in routine pregnancy blood work. The first child is not usually affected. It is the pregnancies after that can become complicated if the baby is Rh-positive. Prior to 1968, before Rhogam was developed hemolytic disease was responsible for an average of 10,000 deaths annually in the U.S. For hundreds of years women with Rh-neative blood experienced losing baby after baby for no apparent reason. Many women gave birth to a healthy first child, only to experience following pregnancies that ended in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth to babies wit anemia, jaundice, or other serious health problems.

Modern Medicine MiracleMany women today need to be thankful for modern day medicine, without it we might not be so lucky to have healthy babies. Long ago it would have been dreary news for a mother to hear that they were Rh-negative but with modern day medicine it really doesn’t even have an affect on the mother or baby.

Don’t be afraid to consult or doctor and look into other resources for more information regarding rh negative blood.

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