All about pregnancy signs and symptoms of pregnancy pregnancy tests home pregnancy test pregnancy stages first trimester of pregnancy second trimester of pregnancy third trimester of pregnancy calculating pregnancy due date prenatal diagnosis healthy pregnancy diet nutrition during pregnancy exercise during pregnancy spotting during pregnancy bleeding during pregnancy smoking during pregnancy sex during pregnancy prenatal care teenage pregnancy twins and multiple births childbirth obstetrics pregnancy ultrasound Chinese lunar pregnancy calendar (Chinese gender chart) fertility charting ovulation: calendar, prediction, test getting pregnant gender selection prenatal tests genetic screening genetic counseling birth control (contraception, pregnancy prevention) male condoms female condoms diaphragm cervical cap birth control pills Norplant Depo Provera spermicides emergency contraceptive pill (morning-after pill) natural family planning intrauterine device (IUD) birth control patch sterilization (vasectomy) fertility awareness method (FAM) abstinence pre-eclampsia, eclampsia HELLP syndrome intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) premature birth stillbirth Caesarean section preterm labor Rh incompatibility (erythroblastosis fetalis) ectopic pregnancy pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes) group B strep morning sickness (NVP) hyperemesis gravidarum miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) postpartum hemorrhage pregnancy-induced hypertension Pica
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Rh incompatibility (Erythroblastosis Fetalis)
Rh incompatibility is a condition that occurs when the mother of a fetus or newborn has Rh-negative blood type and the fetus or newborn has Rh-positive blood. This incompatible blood reaction may cause problems in a newborn as well as life-threatening problems for future pregnancies. People with different blood types have proteins specific to that blood type on the surfaces of their red blood cells. There are four blood types (A, B, AB, and O). Each of the four blood types is additionally classified according to the presence of another protein on the surface of red blood cells that indicates your Rh factor. If you carry this protein, you are Rh positive. If you don't carry the protein, you are Rh negative.
Most people - about 85% - are Rh positive. But if a woman who is Rh negative and a man who is Rh positive conceive a baby, there is the potential for incompatibility. The baby growing inside the Rh-negative mother may have Rh-positive blood, inherited from the father. Statistically, at least 50% of the children born to an Rh-negative mother and Rh-positive father will be Rh positive.
During pregnancy, red blood cells from the fetus can get into the mother's bloodstream as she nourishes her child through the placenta. If the mother is Rh negative, her system cannot tolerate the presence of Rh positive red blood cells. In such cases, the mother's immune system treats the Rh positive fetal cells as if they were a foreign substance and makes antibodies against the fetal blood cells. These anti-Rh antibodies may cross the placenta into the fetus, where they destroy the fetus' circulating red blood cells.
First-born infants are often not affected (unless the mother has had previous miscarriages/abortions, which could have sensitized her system) as it takes time for the mother to develop antibodies against the fetal blood. However, second children who are also Rh-positive may be harmed. Rh incompatibility can cause symptoms ranging from very mild to fatal. In its mildest form, Rh incompatibility causes hemolysis (destruction of the red blood cells) with the release of free hemoglobin into the infant's circulation. Hemoglobin is converted into bilirubin, which causes an infant to become yellow (jaundiced). The jaundice of Rh incompatibility, measured by the level of bilirubin in the infant's bloodstream, may range from mild to dangerously high levels of bilirubin. Hydrops fetalis is a complication of a severe form of Rh incompatibility in which massive fetal red blood cell destruction (a result of the Rh incompatibility) causes a severe anemia resulting in fetal heart failure, total body swelling, respiratory distress (if the infant has been delivered), and circulatory collapse. Hydrops fetalis often results in death of the infant shortly before or after delivery. Kernicterus is a neurological syndrome caused by deposition of bilirubin into the brain (CNS) tissues. Kernicterus develops in extremely jaundiced infants, especially those with severe Rh incompatibility. It occurs several days after delivery and is characterized initially by loss of the Moro (startle) reflex, poor feeding, and decreased activity. Later, a high-pitched shrill cry may develop along with unusual posturing, a bulging fontanel, and seizures. Infants may die suddenly of kernicterus. If they survive, they will usually later develop decreased muscle tone, movement disorders, high-pitched hearing loss, seizures, and decreased mental ability. Rh incompatibility develops only when the mother is Rh negative and the infant is Rh positive. Special immune globulins, called RhoGAM, are now used to prevent this sensitization. Hydrops fetalis and kernicterus have decreased markedly in frequency as a result of these preventive measures.
When diagnosing Rh incompatibility, a healthcare provider will obtain a full history of the mother. This should include her blood type and information about previous pregnancies and previous blood transfusions. A blood test should be done to check the mother's blood type and to see if she has antibodies to the Rh factor. Also, the father should have a blood test done to determine his blood type and to see if he has the Rh factor. Tests of the amniotic fluid, the fluid that surrounds the fetus during pregnancy, can be done to see if there are Rh antibodies. Tests that may be performed on a newborn include a test for Rh antibodies and a blood count from the cord blood. Scans to evaluate the function of the heart, liver, spleen, and brain may also be recommended.
The main treatment for Rh incompatibility is the Rho immune globulin. It is given by injection to the mother at 28 weeks and at 72 hours after delivering a baby. This injection may also be given after abortions or other terminated pregnancies. This gamma globulin, also known as RhoGam, prevents the formation of antibodies that may affect other pregnancies. Other procedures that may be necessary for treatment include planned delivery, via cesarean section or induced labor; phenobarbital given several weeks before delivery to lower the bilirubin level in the blood of the newborn; exchange transfusion, which is a blood transfusion in which fresh group 0, RH negative blood is given to an unborn fetus in exchange for his or her blood; infusion of albumin, a protein, to decrease bilirubin levels; phototherapy, a procedure in which the newborn is placed under special lights, to help decrease the level of bilirubin in the blood.
Rh incompatibility can be prevented by giving women an injection of something called Rho immune globulin. Rh-negative women who are candidates for this therapy include those who are known to be carrying a baby that is Rh positive, have just given birth to an Rh-positive baby, OR have had a spontaneous abortion or elective abortion of a fetus who was Rh positive.
It is unclear exactly how Rho immune globulin works. It is thought to prevent the woman from developing antibodies to the Rh factor. If a woman does not develop these antibodies, then there may be little risk to any future Rh-positive babies she may have. This therapy may be given just before a woman delivers her Rh-positive baby or immediately afterward. Some women may be given it both times if the healthcare provider feels it is necessary. This therapy is very effective in reducing the chances that a woman will have problems with future pregnancies. An Rh-negative woman should be tested for antibodies at the first prenatal visit, at 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks, and 36 weeks of her pregnancy. All Rh-positive women should be tested for antibodies if they have had blood transfusions, a baby with jaundice, a stillbirth, abortion, or problems with the placenta in the past.
More information on pregnancy
Pregnancy - Pregnancy is period of time between fertilization of the ovum (conception) and birth, during which mammals carry their developing young in the uterus (see embryo).
Pregnancy signs and symptoms - During pregnancy a woman's body undergoes a number of changes to allow the fetus to develop inside the womb. The symptoms of pregnancy vary from woman to woman.
Pregnancy tests - A pregnancy test is a test of blood or urine used to determine whether a woman is pregnant. There are two types of pregnancy tests - blood and urine tests.
Home pregnancy test - A home pregnancy test measures the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. All home pregnancy test kits test your pregnancy on the basis of your urine sample.
Pregnancy stages - There are three stages of pregnancy called trimesters. Each trimester is three months. The word "trimester" comes from a Latin word meaning "three months long."
First trimester of pregnancy - First trimester pregnancy is the early stage of pregnancy from conception to 12 weeks gestation, or about 14 weeks from the first day of the last normal menstrual period (LNMP).
Second trimester of pregnancy - In the second trimester the embryo, now known as a fetus, is recognisable as human in form, but is not developed enough to be viable if born. The second trimester is often called the planning trimester.
Third trimester of pregnancy - The third trimester of pregnancy lasts from 28 weeks after your last menstrual period (LMP) until the birth, which usually occurs between the 38th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy.
Calculating pregnancy due date - The due date is usually computed from the first day of the last regular period. In the calendar, this can be figured by taking that date, subtracting three months, and adding seven days.
Prenatal diagnosis - Prenatal diagnosis is the process of detecting and diagnosing fetal abnormalities before birth. A targeted prenatal diagnosis is done when there is a concrete suspicion that there might be a particular disorder.
Healthy pregnancy diet - A balanced diet is key to having a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy places substantial demands on the availability of iron in the body.
Nutrition during pregnancy - Nutrition is an essential component of prenatal care. During pregnancy, your body needs more nutrients in order to provide a baby with what it needs. Eat enough food to gain weight at the rate recommended by your health care provider.
Exercise during pregnancy - Exercise plays an important role in promoting health and well-being for pregnant women. Excessive levels of physical activity in pregnancy can reduce fetal growth and increase the risk of preterm delivery.
Spotting during pregnancy - Spotting is light bleeding similar to your period and it can happen at any time during pregnancy, but it is most common during the first trimester.
Bleeding during pregnancy - Bleeding from the vagina in early pregnancy is very common. First trimester bleeding is any vaginal bleeding during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
Smoking during pregnancy - Cigarette smoking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems to an unborn child. Many complications of pregnancy are more likely to occur in smokers.
Sex during pregnancy - Sex and sexual intercourse are not harmful during pregnancy. For most women and their partners, sex during pregnancy is fine as long as both partners consent and are comfortable.
Prenatal care - Prenatal care is the health care that a woman receives before her baby is born. Prenatal care is provided for women during the period between conception and birth of the baby.
Teenage pregnancy - Teenage pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs in an adolescent. Babies born to teenagers are at risk for neglect and abuse.
Twins and multiple birth - Multiple pregnancies are on the rise in recent years with more and more twins and other types of multiples being born. A multiple birth is when more than one human baby results from a single pregnancy.
Childbirth - Childbirth (also called labour, birth, or parturition) is the culmination of pregnancy, the emergence of a child from its mother's uterus.
Obstetrics - Obstetrics is the surgical specialty dealing with the care of a woman and her offspring during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (the period shortly after birth).
Pregnancy ultrasound - Pregnancy ultrasound is a method of imaging the fetus and the female pelvic organs during pregnancy.
Chinese lunar pregnancy calendar - The Chinese pregnancy calendar was allegedly discovered about 700 years ago. The accuracy of the chart has been proved by thousands of people and is believed to be 99 percent accurate.
Fertility charting - Fertility charting allows you to predict ovulation, pinpoint your most fertile time in your cycle, and increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Ovulation: calendar, prediction, test - Ovulation is the process of discharging a mature ovum (egg) from an ovary after a Graafian follicle - representing the final stage of follicular development before ovulation - has been formed.
Getting pregnant - The best or most fertile time to get pregnant is the period of ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most women ovulate (release an egg from the ovary) about two weeks before their period.
Gender selection - There are three main techniques of sex selection: pre-natal testing and termination of pregnancy, pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos, and sperm sorting.
Prenatal tests - Prenatal tests are one of the many ways your practitioner can check on the well-being of your growing baby and find out whether you're at risk for complications.
Genetic screening - Genetic screening is a process used to find out what diseases or birth defects a child might inherit from his or her parents.
Genetic counseling - Genetic counseling is the process of determining the risk you have of passing on an inheritable disease to your baby.
Birth control (contraception, pregnancy prevention) - Birth control is the practice of preventing or reducing the probability of pregnancy without abstaining from sexual intercourse; the term is also sometimes used to include abortion.
Male condoms - Condoms are thin barriers made of latex, plastic, or natural membranes. The male condom fits over a man's penis. The female condom fits inside a woman's vagina.
Female condoms - The female condom is a polyurethane sheath or pouch about 17 cm (6.5 inches) in length. It is worn by a woman during sex.
Diaphragm - A diaphragm is a rubber disc a woman places into her vagina. The diaphragm blocks a man's semen from entering the cervix (the opening to the womb).
Cervical cap - The cervical cap is a small latex cup that a woman inserts into her vagina before sexual intercourse. The cervical cap fits snugly over the woman's cervix.
Birth control pills - The birth control pill is a small, usually white, tablet that is taken orally (by mouth). The pill usually comes in a packet that has days marked off for a cycle lasting about a month.
Norplant - Contraceptive implants (Norplant?) are six match stick size implants inserted into the upper arm. Norplant is a form of progestin that is placed under the skin.
Depo Provera - Depo Provera is a hormone, much like the progesterone a woman produces during the last two weeks of each monthly cycle. Depo-Provera or progesterone stops the woman's ovaries from releasing an egg.
Spermicides - Spermicides are chemicals that make the sperm unable to function. Spermicide can be used alone or with other birth control methods to reduce the risk of pregnancy.
Emergency contraceptive pill - Emergency contraception is the use of certain methods after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
Natural family planning - Natural family planning is defined as the understanding and use of the natural phases of fertility and infertility by a couple in order to either achieve or avoid pregnancy.
Intrauterine device (IUD) - An intrauterine device (intra meaning within, and uterine meaning of the uterus), is a birth control device also known as an IUD or a coil.
Birth control patch - The birth control patch is a thin plastic patch (1 3/4 inch square) placed directly on the skin of the woman. It is a hormonal method of contraception obtained by prescription.
Sterilization (vasectomy) - Sterilization is a surgical technique leaving a male or female unable to procreate. It is a method of birth control.
Fertility awareness method (FAM) - Fertility awareness is a means of understanding a woman's reproductive cycle by observing and writing down fertility signs.
Abstinence - Periodic abstinence is a way that sexually active women prevent pregnancy by becoming familiar with their fertility patterns and abstaining from vaginal intercourse on the days they think they could become pregnant.
Pre-eclampsia, eclampsia - Pre-eclampsia is a condition which only occurs during pregnancy. It causes high blood pressure, protein leaks from the kidneys, and other symptoms may develop.
HELLP Syndrome - The HELLP syndrome is a complication of pregnancy featuring a combination of abnormal conditions including emolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.
Intrauterine growth restriction - Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) refers to the condition in which a foetus is unable to grow to its genetically determined potential size to a degree that may affect the health of the foetus.
Premature birth - Premature birth is defined medically as a birth occurring earlier than 37 weeks. Infants born prematurely have an increased risk of death in the first year of life.
Stillbirth - Stillbirth refers to the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy but before birth. A pregnancy that ends before the twentieth week is called a miscarriage rather than a stillbirth.
Caesarean section - A Caesarean section (Cesarean section AE), is a surgical procedure to deliver one or more babies through an incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus.
Preterm labor - Preterm labor, or premature labor, is when the uterus (womb) contracts and the cervix opens earlier than normal.
Rh incompatibility - Rh incompatibility is a condition that occurs when the mother of a fetus or newborn has Rh-negative blood type and the fetus or newborn has Rh-positive blood.
Ectopic pregnancy - An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized ovum is implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall.
Pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes) - Gestational diabetes is a condition in which the glucose level is elevated and other diabetic symptoms appear during pregnancy in a woman who has not previously been diagnosed with diabetes.
Group B strep - Group B streptococcus (group B strep) is a type of bacteria that causes infection among newborns, pregnant women or women after childbirth.
Morning sickness (NVP) - Morning sickness, also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), affects between 50 and 85 percent of all pregnant women.
Hyperemesis gravidarum - Hyperemesis gravidarum means excessive vomiting during pregnancy. The severe vomiting associated with hyperemesis gravidarum requires medical attention.
Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) - Miscarriage is the term used for a pregnancy that ends on it's own, within the first 20 weeks of gestation.
Postpartum hemorrhage - Postpartum bleeding (severe postpartum bleeding) is the loss of more than a pint of blood within the first 24 hours after delivering a baby.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension - Pregnancy-induced hypertension (also referred to as toxemia, preeclampsia and eclampsia) is a condition that may develop during the second half of a woman's pregnancy.
Pica - Pica is a pattern of eating non-nutritive substances (such as dirt or paper), lasting for at least one month.