When thinking about the Rh factor you should know that there are four different blood types: O, A, B and AB. The blood also has antigens that are made of proteins that make the immune system respond. The Rh is one of these proteins. The people who have this factor are considered Rh positive.
Positive or negative factor of Rh
The people who don’t have this factor are considered Rh negative. As part of the prenatal care women usually have different blood tests to learn about their blood type. This is when mothers find out whether they are Rh negative or positive. If the mother doesn’t have the Rh factor and the father has it the baby can also be Rh positive.
There is a problem regarding the Rh antigen if the baby has this antigen but the mother doesn’t. As it has been mentioned before, the role of the antigen is to get a response from the immune system, and so the problems that could arise involve the immune system.
If the mother doesn’t have the Rhesus factor and the baby has it, the immune system of the mother could develop antibodies to the baby. If your blood gets mixed with the blood of the baby (which rarely happens until birth occurs) you could have an allergic reaction to the baby. The mother’s body could produce antibodies.
As a result of the differences of the Rh type the mother becomes sensitized and the produced antibodies can get through the placenta, attacking the blood of the baby. The red blood cells of the baby will be broken down and he or she will be affected by anemia. This is known as hemolytic anemia.
The problems caused by the type of Rh can be so severe that they lead to brain damage, illness, or even death. Sensitization can take place just any time when the blood of the mother mixes with the blood of the baby. This happens during a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, menstrual extraction or abortion.
What can you do about the Rh factor?
It is important to have a blood test so that you will know your blood and Rh type. You could also have an antibody screen. This is meant to show whether Rh negative mother developed antibodies for Rh positive blood. Women usually receive an injection of Rh immunoglobulin.
When is RhIg injected?
This can be used in case of factor of rhesus problems during the pregnancy or after delivery. If the Rh negative mother hasn’t been sensitized, she could get the injection during the 28th pregnancy week. This is a safety measure to make sure that her blood won’t become sensitized during the rest of the pregnancy.
If the baby is Rh positive, because of the antigen of Rh women should get an injection after delivery. This way they can be sure that their blood won’t get sensitized because of the baby’s blood that remained in the mother’s body.
Now you know a lot more about the Rhesus factor and you know what you can do about it.