Rhesus incompatibility

Rhesus incompatibility

Rhesus incompatibility is a disorder in newborns due to differences in rhesus blood groups between mother and child. This condition occurs when the fetus has a positive rhesus group, while the mother's rhesus is negative.

Basically, rhesus blood type does not really affect a person's health condition. However, if there is a rhesus difference between the pregnant woman and the fetus, the fetus can experience various complications. The main complications are anemia and jaundice in the baby at birth .

Causes of Rhesus Incompatibility

Rhesus incompatibility can occur if a mother who has a negative blood group carries a fetus with a positive rhesus blood group. This blood group difference occurs because the father has a positive rhesus blood group.

Rhesus incompatibility is rare in first pregnancies. This is because pregnant women with rhesus negative newly form antibodies against rhesus positive after the first pregnancy. Therefore, mothers' first children with this condition are generally born normally.

Whereas in the second pregnancy and so on, the antibodies that have formed in the mother's body will attack the baby's blood with a positive rhesus group. This causes the baby's blood cells to be destroyed.

However, if the rhesus negative mother has been exposed to rhesus positive blood, for example through a blood transfusion , rhesus incompatibility may occur from the first pregnancy, because antibodies have already been formed. This can also happen if the mother has a miscarriage in her first pregnancy.

Symptoms of Rhesus Incompatibility

The main symptom of rhesus incompatibility is jaundice . The baby's skin and eyes will appear yellowish due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the body (hyperbilirubinemia). Bilirubin is a substance produced when red blood cells are destroyed.

In addition to jaundice, rhesus incompatibility causes the baby to experience hemolytic anemia so that he becomes pale, weak, drowsy all the time, and has slow movements.

When to see a doctor

To find out the rhesus blood type, prospective pregnant women and their partners can do a blood type test .

Women with a negative rhesus blood group (Rh-) are advised to consult a doctor if they have a partner with a positive rhesus blood group (Rh+), before planning pregnancy and childbirth.

Diagnosis of Rhesus Incompatibility

The diagnosis of rhesus incompatibility can be made during pregnancy or after delivery. Examinations that doctors can do during pregnancy include:

  • Blood group test of mother and father, to confirm rhesus of both
  • Rosette test, to screen for the amount of maternal antibodies to a positive rhesus fetus
  • Doppler ultrasound, to detect anemia in the fetus

Meanwhile, the examinations performed on newborns are:

  • Coombs test on the baby's umbilical cord, to detect antibodies from the mother
  • Blood tests, to check the baby's blood cells and bilirubin levels

Treatment of Rhesus Incompatibility

Treatment methods for babies born with rhesus incompatibility include:

  • Giving blood transfusions to replace destroyed blood cells
  • Administration of fluids or electrolytes to prevent dehydration
  • Phototherapy to decompose the bilirubin substance that accumulates on the baby's skin and organs

Blood transfusions and phototherapy in infants can be repeated until the symptoms subside and the condition improves. How often blood transfusions and phototherapy are repeated depends on the severity of red blood cell damage due to rhesus incompatibility.

Rhesus incompatibility complications

Severe rhesus incompatibility can cause complications due to damage to red blood cells, including:

  • Severe anemia
  • Heart failure
  • seizures
  • Brain damage in babies due to jaundice ( kernicterus )
  • Fluid accumulation and swelling of the baby's body
  • Mental disorders
  • Nervous disorders, such as disturbances in moving, hearing, or speaking
  • Infant death

Prevention of Rhesus Incompatibility

To prevent rhesus incompatibility, doctors can give Rho injections during the first pregnancy.

Giving Rho in the first pregnancy will help prevent the mother's immune system from forming antibodies against rhesus. Giving Rho can be done at the following times:

  • After the 28th week of the first pregnancy
  • The third day after giving birth to a baby with positive rhesus

This effort is expected to prevent the mother's immune system from forming antibodies against rhesus. That way, in the second pregnancy there are no antibodies that damage the blood of a positive rhesus fetus.

In addition, women who have rhesus differences with their partners should consult a doctor before planning a pregnancy.

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