Many of us have heard about the Rh factor, but it is rather kind of vague to imagine what it is. Its absence or presence does not affect our everyday life. It is quite another thing when a woman is pregnant, because certain combinations of rhesus parents can lead to Rhesus conflict.
Rhesus factor is a protein (antigen) located on the surface of erythrocyte. If this protein is present, it is a positive Rhesus, and in case of absence, it is negative. Statistics show that 85% of people are Rh-positive and 15% are Rh-negative.
When a Rhesus conflict can occur
Rhesus conflict can occur in the case of a transfusion of a Rhesus-incompatible blood or during pregnancy of a Rh-negative woman with a Rh-positive fetus. What happens during the Rhesus conflict? The erythrocytes of the fetus that carry the antigen, getting into the blood of a pregnant woman, are«direction finding» by her immune system as «strangers». The mother’s body goes on alert and produces special antibodies to destroy the «enemy» - the red blood cells of the child. In the blood of the unborn baby, the level of bilirubin rises. Since a rapid immune attack is carried out on the red blood cells of the fetus, they die en masse, the liver and spleen accelerate the production of new red blood cells, while increasing in size. The organs cannot make up for the loss of red blood cells and oxygen starvation sets in, which in turn leads to a chain of serious disorders.
Cases of the death of a child are not uncommon. The threat of Rhesus conflict affects couples in which the woman is Rh-negative and the husband is Rh-positive. In this embodiment, there is a 75% probability of Rh incompatibility. When registering a pregnant woman must be checked for the Rh factor. If there is a threat of Rh conflict, the patient’s blood is examined for the presence of antibodies, their number. The level of antibodies informs the doctor about the onset of the Rh conflict.
Prevention and treatment
After birth, the Rh factor is immediately determined in the newborn. If the Rh factor is positive, then an anti-Rhesus immunoglobulin is administered to the mother to prevent Rh conflict in the event of the next pregnancy. The same prevention should be carried out by Rh-negative women within 72 hours after an abortion, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, , amniocentesis. In the case of an increase in the number of antibodies in the pregnant woman, observation and treatment of the mother and child in the perinatal center is necessary.