Blood Type Incompatibility or Jaundice
A-B-0 and Rh incompatibility happens when a mother’s blood type conflicts with that of her newborn child. Blood type incompatibility can be prevented, learn how.
What is blood type incompatibility? Jaundice?
Blood types are categorized by A, B, and O, and given an Rh factor of positive or negative. A-B-0 and Rh incompatibility happens when a mother’s blood type conflicts with that of her newborn child. It is possible for a mother’s red blood cells to cross into the placenta or fetus during pregnancy. When this occurs, the mother’s blood cells develop antibodies that can attack the newborn’s blood cells and cause jaundice. The risk of this is highest near or during delivery.
A-B-O incompatibility occurs when:
- the mother is type O and the baby is B, A, or AB
- the mother is type A and their baby is B or AB
- the mother is type B and their baby is A or AB
Rh incompatibility occurs when a mother has Rh-negative blood and the baby has Rh-positive blood. The mother’s body will produce an auto-immune response that attacks the fetus or newborn’s blood cells as if they were a bacterial or viral invader. This immune response is fairly slow to develop and is rarely a serious issue in first pregnancies. However, subsequent pregnancies with an Rh incompatibility are a significantly higher risk.
Blood type incompatibility can be prevented with a blood test early in pregnancy. If an Rh incompatibility is found, an Rh-immune globulin treatment is administered about 28 weeks into the pregnancy. If the incompatibility is not detected, the newborn can develop severe jaundice leading to brain damage. While it can have serious consequences, jaundice in newborns is common and treatable; medical attention is necessary at the first sign of yellowish discoloration in the skin or eyes.
Rh and ABO incompatibility in the infant results in jaundice, which is treated through hydration and phototherapy. Biliblankets and other phototherapy equipment help the infant’s body expel bilirubin, the cause of jaundice.
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