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Rh Disease

Discussion in 'Ask Jack' started by Lyndra, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. Lyndra

    Lyndra Gold

    Ask Jack:

    What, if any, long-term health concerns would having Rh disease at birth predispose someone to?
  2. Jack Kruse

    Jack Kruse Administrator

    Rh factors are genetically determined. A baby may have the blood type and Rh factor of either parent, or a combination of both parents. Rh factors follow a common pattern of genetic inheritance. The Rh positive gene is dominant (stronger) and even when paired with an Rh negative gene, the positive gene takes over. For example:

    If a person has the genes + +, the Rh factor in the blood will be positive.

    If a person has the genes + -, the Rh factor will be positive.

    If a person has the genes - -, the Rh factor will be negative.

    In a first pregnancy, Rh sensitization is not likely. Usually it only becomes a problem in a future pregnancy with another Rh positive baby. During that pregnancy, the mother's antibodies cross the placenta to fight the Rh positive cells in the baby's body. As the antibodies destroy the red blood cells, the baby can become anemic. The anemia can lead to other complications including jaundice and organ enlargement.

    Rh disease is also called erythroblastosis fetalis during pregnancy. In the newborn, the resulting condition is called hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN).

    Severe jaundice

    The baby's liver is unable to handle the large amount of a substance called bilirubin that results from red blood cell breakdown. The baby's liver is enlarged and anemia continues.

    Kernicterus (bad longterm issues here)

    The most severe form of too much bilirubin and results from the build up of bilirubin in the brain. This can cause seizures, brain damage, deafness, and death.

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