You and Your Baby’s Blood Type There are four major blood types; A, B, AB and O. There are antigens on the blood cells that tell us what the blood type is. Antigens are also proteins on the blood cells that can cause an immune system response. Your Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited trait that refers to a certain protein that is found on the surface of red blood cells. You are Rh positive if your blood has the protein, which is most common. If there is no protein, then you are Rh Negative. The Rh factor doesn't affect your health; however it can affect your pregnancy. If you are Rh positive and the baby’s father is Rh negative, your baby will need some particular attention. The fetus will inherit the Rh factor from the father. This will make the baby Rh negative which does not match the mother’s status of positive. If you are Rh negative and your baby is Rh positive, your immune system may develop antibodies to the Rh positive. If a small amount of the baby’s blood gets mixed with your blood, you may have an allergic reaction. This mixing of blood can easily happen during trauma to the mother or just small tearing of the placenta. When this mixing happens you become sensitized and your antibodies cross the placenta. This causes your body to become allergic to the fetus and these antibodies will attack your baby’s blood. The break down of the baby’s blood can cause anemia. This hemolytic disease can cause harm to the fetus such as brain damage or death. During your first prenatal visit, your doctor may recommend having an Rh factor test performed. The Rh factor test is a blood test that is used to determine if you are Rh positive or Rh negative. There are no risks from taking the Rh factor test and it doesn't require any special preparation. When the test results come back, and you are Rh positive, no action needs to be taken. If you are Rh negative and the baby's father is Rh positive, there is a chance that your body will potentially produce antibodies that could harm your baby. Discuss this with your health care provider about scheduling an Rh immune globulin injection during your pregnancy and make sure that you remind your delivery team of your Rh status during labor. Your reminder will help them provide the best possible care during labor and delivery. Sensitization occurs during the mixing of a fetus’s blood with the mother’s blood. This can be prevented by receiving an injection called Rh immunoglobulin (RhIg), getting an antibody screen, and obtaining a blood test that can provide you with your blood type and Rh factor. References American Pregnancy Association. (2006). Rh Factor. Retrieved from: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/rhfactor.html mayoClinic.com (2010). Rh Factor Blood Test. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rh-factor/MY01163

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