Rh incompatibility

Alternative Names

Rh-induced hemolytic disease of the newborn

Definition of Rh incompatibility

Rh incompatibility is a condition that develops when a pregnant woman has Rh-negative blood and the baby in her womb has Rh-positive blood.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

During pregnancy, red blood cells from the fetus can get into the mother’s bloodstream as she nourishes her child through the placenta.

Symptoms

Rh incompatibility can cause symptoms ranging from very mild to deadly. In its mildest form, Rh incompatibility causes destruction of red blood cells.

Signs and tests

There may be:

Treatment

Since Rh incompatibility is almost completely preventable with the use of RhoGAM, prevention remains the best treatment. Treatment of the already affected infant depends on the severity of the condition.

Expectations (prognosis)

Full recovery is expected for mild Rh incompatibility.

Review

Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/17/2009

Erythroblastosis fetalis, photomicrograph
Jaundice infant
Antibodies
Exchange transfusion - series
Rh Incompatibility - series

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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