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There are four major blood types: A, B, O, and AB. The types are based on substances on the surface of the blood cells. Another blood type is called Rh. Rh factor is a protein on red blood cells. Most people are Rh-positive; they have Rh factor. Rh-negative people don't have it. Rh factor is inherited though genes.

When you're pregnant, blood from your baby can cross into your bloodstream, especially during delivery. If you're Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, your body will react to the baby's blood as a foreign substance. It will create antibodies (proteins) against the baby's blood. These antibodies usually don't cause problems during a first pregnancy.

But Rh incompatibility may cause problems in later pregnancies, if the baby is Rh-positive. This is because the antibodies stay in your body once they have formed. The antibodies can cross the placenta and attack the baby's red blood cells. The baby could get Rh disease, a serious condition that can cause a serious type of anemia.

Blood tests can tell whether you have Rh factor and whether your body has made antibodies. Injections of a medicine called Rh immune globulin can keep your body from making Rh antibodies. It helps prevent the problems of Rh incompatibility. If treatment is needed for the baby, it can include supplements to help the body to make red blood cells and blood transfusions.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of Rh Incompatibility

The following features are indicative of Rh Incompatibility:
  • yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
  • hemolytic anemia
  • lethargy
  • low muscle tone

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Common Causes of Rh Incompatibility

The following are the most common causes of Rh Incompatibility:
  • difference in blood type between a pregnant woman and her baby

Risk Factors for Rh Incompatibility

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Rh Incompatibility:
  • Rh-negative woman who conceives a child with an Rh-positive man

Prevention of Rh Incompatibility

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Rh Incompatibility. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • use of Rh immune globulin during and after each pregnancy
  • early prenatal care

Occurrence of Rh Incompatibility

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Rh Incompatibility cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Rh Incompatibility most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • At birth

Common Gender

Rh Incompatibility can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Rh Incompatibility

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Rh Incompatibility:
  • Blood tests: To detect whether you are Rh-positive or Rh-negative
  • Ultrasound: To diagnose the Rh incompatibility
  • Antibody screen: To determine whether you have Rh antibodies in your blood
  • Amniocentesis: To measure bilirubin levels in your baby
  • Doppler ultrasound: To measure how fast blood is flowing through an artery in the baby's head

Doctor for Diagnosis of Rh Incompatibility

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Rh Incompatibility:
  • Obstetrician
  • Hematologist
  • Pediatrician

Complications of Rh Incompatibility if untreated

Yes, Rh Incompatibility causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Rh Incompatibility is left untreated:
  • brain damage
  • heart failure

Procedures for Treatment of Rh Incompatibility

The following procedures are used to treat Rh Incompatibility:
  • Blood exchange transfusion: To remove newborn's blood and replacing it with fresh blood or plasma from a donor
  • Phototherapy using bilirubin lights: To treat mild Rh incompatibility in infants and lower the amount of bilirubin in their blood

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Rh Incompatibility

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Rh Incompatibility:
  • Consuming Iron supplements: Prompt the body to make red blood cells

Patient Support for Treatment of Rh Incompatibility

The following actions may help Rh Incompatibility patients:
  • Join supporting research groups: Provides medical knowledge and care about the disease

Time for Treatment of Rh Incompatibility

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Rh Incompatibility to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 6 months - 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Rh Incompatibility.

Related Topics

Blood Disorders

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