At the beginning of your pregnancy you will be asked to provide a blood sample in order to test for the presence of irregular antibodies. While these antibodies are not usually present there are times such as after a blood transfusion or during a previous pregnancy when these may appear in your bloodstream although medical professionals are still not certain why this happens.
Types of irregular antibodies
There are antibodies against blood groups A and B and against rhesus factor (D). There are many other blood groups against which antibodies can exist. It is possible to have irregular antibodies against several of these blood groups, but usually only one species is present.
Possible consequences for the baby
Irregular antibodies of the pregnant woman reach the baby via the placenta during pregnancy. Fortunately not all irregular antibodies have consequences for the baby, but some can gradually break down the baby's blood, giving the baby a higher chance of jaundice. It is also possible that anemia may develop in the baby during pregnancy.
Whether or not irregular antibodies affect the baby depends on the particular antibodies present and the blood group of the baby.
When irregular antibodies are found in the pregnant woman, the partner's blood is always examined to determine the blood group. The woman is referred to a gynecologist who will discuss the results with the couple. On the basis of blood tests, it is determined which blood group the baby may have.
The gynecologist will discuss whether the antibodies can affect the baby. If there is a chance that the antibodies can affect the baby's blood, extra testing will take place.
A blood test will be done. This is an ADCC test, which can predict how likely it is to break down the baby's blood. Unfortunately, the research is not always reliable and therefore an ultrasound scan usually follows to see if the baby is already showing signs of anemia. If these tests do not lead to complications, the baby should be born on the due date.
If there are indications that the baby's blood is affected, the gynecologist can advise to initiate the delivery before the due date. In a very few cases there is very serious blood breakdown (and anemia). A blood transfusion is the done with the baby in the womb. The chances are that the baby is admitted to the incubator department, for observation or for treatment under a blue lamp. Occasionally it is necessary to give the baby blood again (exchange transfusion).
Also see these information articles: · Tests during pregnancy · Amniocentesis · Anemia · Chorionic testing · Combination test · Group B Streptococcus · Hemoglobin · Neural tube defect · NIPT test · Triple test · Umbilical cord