Few people know their blood type. It is mostly known by those who had to do it in order to understand it. Blood group has another determining factor – the so-called rhesus factor Rh.
It is a protein found on the surface of red blood cells. People whose blood contains this protein are said to have Rh-positive blood. They represent about 80% of the world's population.
Everyone else whose blood does not contain this protein has Rh-negative blood.
Very often people find out what their blood type and Rh factor are when they have a child. It is very important for pregnant women to have their blood type determined, as well as for fathers.
If you and your partner have Rh-positive blood then there is no problem for the baby. This also applies when both parents are Rh-negative.
But when the mother has a negative Rh factor and the father is positive, the baby can take either the positive Rh factor or the negative. A potentially dangerous condition would result if the mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh positive.
The condition proceeds similarly to autoimmune disease. If the mother is rhesus factor negative it is very possible that she has antibodies against the protein which can be transferred to the baby via the placenta.
These antibodies attack the cells of the specific protein because they register it as an enemy. This can cause clot formation in the child and cause its premature death in severe uncontrolled cases.
In other cases, the antibodies destroy the red blood cells in the baby's body, which can lead to complications such as jaundice, anemia, heart failure, organ enlargementand others.
The risk of Rh-incompatibility in the first pregnancy is significantly lower. But with each subsequent pregnancy, it rises. This requires special monitoring and treatment to prevent the mother's body from attacking the baby.
Usually appointed prophylaxis. Treatment is by injecting the mother with Rh immunoglobulin during the first pregnancy to prevent her body from developing antibodies against the specific protein.
Since doctors rarely take samples of the baby's blood before birth, Rh negative mothers are almost always subject to preventive treatment.
Usually the treatment consists of giving two injections – one around the 27th week of pregnancy, the other – immediately after birth. Many doctors recommend injecting the baby after birth only in cases in which it is Rh-positive.
Some believe that it is good to give such an injection, even if the baby has a negative Rh factor. The decision is made individually after careful research and consideration of the outcome.