Consequences for fetus and neonate of maternal red cell allo-immunisation

H Howard, V Martlew, I McFadyen, C Clarke, J Duguid, I Bromilow, J Eggington
Archives of Disease in Childhood. Fetal and Neonatal Edition 1998, 78 (1): F62-6

AIMS: To study the distribution of clinically important red cell antibodies in pregnancy, and the associated fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.

METHODS: The case notes of women with clinically important red cell antibodies identified in their serum during pregnancy were reviewed.

RESULTS: During a 12 month period 22,264 women were referred for antenatal screening. Clinically important red cell antibodies were detected in 244 (1%). Of these, 100 were anti-D and 144 were non-RhD antibodies. There were three intrauterine deaths, three fetuses required intrauterine transfusion, 10 neonates were transfused, 27 others had phototherapy, and 27 with a positive direct antiglobulin test received no treatment. Early fetal losses occurred in the presence of both high and low levels of anti-D.

CONCLUSIONS: Anti-D remains the most common clinically important antibody in pregnancy, and accounts for the greatest fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Of the other antibodies detected, anti-c was associated with most neonatal morbidity. The production of many of the non-D antibodies detected could be avoided by the use of selected red cells when transfusing pre-menopausal women.

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