Rhesus factor is a test a lot of intending couples fails to do before marriage it is necessary to know about it but some people feel it is not (which shouldn’t be if you really care about the unborn baby )
Rhesus Factor is a certain type of protein found on the outside of blood cells. People are either Rh-positive (they have the protein) or Rh-negative (they do not have the protein).It is important to know about this rhesus factor to avoid complications during pregnancy.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT ?
It is important to know in pregnancy because of one scenario where the mother is Rh- negative and the baby is Rh-positiveHOW?If one has the rhesus antigen that is Rh-positive the body(immune cells) learns to recognize that antigen as being part of your body so it does not attack it.But when one don’t have the rhesus antigen that is Rh-negative in the red blood cells and it comes in contact with that antigen your body thinks that it is a pathogen and is needs to attack it i.e when one that is Rh-negative is been transfused with blood that contains rhesus antigen here the new B cells of your body will recognize that there is something that does not belong to your body and will launch an immune response and create something called Antibodies against that antigen which is called Anti-D antibodies.If the mother is Rh-positive there is nothing to worry about because the baby could either be Rh-positive or Rh-negative and is never going to try and attack that baby’s blood cells.
However when a woman is Rh-negative and the baby is Rh-positive it means that anything the baby’s blood flows into the mother’s bloodstream she is going to create anti-rhesus antibodies.How does the baby’s blood get into the mother’s bloodstream???This could happen at any sensitizing event i.e miscarriages after 12weeksAbdominal trauma or at birthUsually this does not have much impact at this time because the mother would destroy the blood cells that has got into her system, however future Pregnancy What happens???The antibodies the mother has developed would be able to cross the placenta barriers and gets into the bloodstream of the baby and start and start attacking the baby’s blood cells.
As the baby’s blood cells are being destroyed that releases some chemical into the baby’s blood particularly something called BILIRUBIN and bilirubin is responsible for creating jaundice.When the bilirubin becomes very high this can cause significant brain damage and actually long term learning difficulties or disabilities.The process of anti bodies crossing across the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream causes hemolytic anemia or jaundice.
HOW DO WE PREVENT THE MOTHER FROM GETTING SENSITIZED?
We used Anti-D immunoglobulin(Anti -D antibodies) this is given by intramuscular injections at any events where the mom might get sensitized.
So anytime the baby’s blood enters the mother’s bloodstream what the injection does is to cirulate around the blood and destroys any of the baby’s blood or any of the cells in the mom that contains its rhesus antigen.
Article by Onwuma Favour Ifeoma