Rhesus factor disease
Althoughrhesus diseaseis rare and most cases are successfully treated, there aresome risks to both unborn and newborn babies.
If rhesus disease causes severe anaemia in an unborn baby, it can lead to:
Blood transfusions givento ababy in the womb (intrauterine transfusions [IUT]), can beused to treat anaemia in an unborn baby. However, this treatment also carries some risks of complications. It can lead to an early labour thatbegins before the 37th week of pregnancy and there's a 2% risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
Rhesus disease causes a build up of excessive amounts of a substance called bilirubin. Without prompt treatment, a build-up of bilirubin in the brain can lead to a neurological condition called kernicterus. This can lead to deafness , blindness , brain damage, learning difficulties or even death.
Treatment for rhesus disease is usually effective in reducing bilirubin levels in the blood, so these complications are uncommon.
The risk of developing an infection from the blood used in blood transfusions is low, because all the blood is carefully screened. The blood used will also be matched to the babys blood type, so the likelihood of your baby having an adverse reaction to the donated blood is also low.
However, there may be a problem with the transfusion itself. For example, the tube (catheter) used to deliver the bloodcan become dislodged, causing heavy bleeding (haemorrhage) or a blood clot .
Generally, the risks associated with blood transfusions aresmall and don't outweigh the benefits of treating a baby with anaemia.
Rhesus disease (haemolytic disease of the foetus and newborn) is a condition where antibodies in a pregnant womans blood destroy her baby's blood cells
Rhesus disease only affects the baby, and the mother won't experience any symptoms. Around 50% of babies have mild symptoms that are easily treatable.
Rhesus disease is caused by a specific mix of blood types between a pregnant mother and her unborn baby.
Rhesus disease is usually diagnosed during the routine screening tests you're offered during pregnancy.
Treatment for rhesus disease depends on how severe the condition is. In more severe cases, treatment may need to begin before the baby is born.
Although rhesus disease is rare and most cases are successfully treated, there are some risks to both unborn and newborn babies.