The role of immunoglobulins in neonatal Rhesus haemolytic disease

A Greenough
BioDrugs: Clinical Immunotherapeutics, Biopharmaceuticals and Gene Therapy 2001, 15 (8): 533-41
Rhesus (Rh) isoimmunisation is the most common form of severe haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN). The introduction of prophylaxis with anti-D Rh0 immunoglobulin (anti-D) has resulted in a marked reduction in the sensitisation of Rh-negative women and deaths attributable to Rh HDN. The sensitisation rate could be further decreased if there was strict adherence to the guidelines for administration of anti-D prophylaxis. Whether additional prophylaxis at 28 and 34 weeks of gestation would be cost effective is controversial. Intrauterine transfusions to treat fetal anaemia, postnatal exchange transfusions and phototherapy are all part of the standard management of affected individuals. Intravenous immunoglobulin given to pregnant women can reduce fetal haemolysis, and when administered to neonates with Rh isoimmunisation has been associated with a reduction in the requirement for exchange transfusion. There are, however, potential risks of immunoglobulin administration, including haemolysis due to the presence of anti-A or anti-B antibodies, allergy and the transmission of disease.

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