Rh Sensitization During Pregnancy - Topic Overview
If you are Rh-sensitized, your doctor will
watch your pregnancy carefully. You may have:
- Regular blood tests, to check the level of
antibodies in your blood.
- Doppler ultrasound, to check blood flow to the baby?s brain. This can show
anemia and how severe it is.
- Amniocentesis after 15 weeks, to
check the baby?s blood type and Rh factor and to look for problems.
How is Rh sensitization prevented?
If you have Rh-negative
blood but are not Rh-sensitized, your doctor will give you one or more shots of
Rh immune globulin (such as RhoGAM). This prevents Rh sensitization in about 99
women out of 100 who use it.1
You may get a shot of Rh immune globulin:
- If you have a test such as an
- Around week 28 of your pregnancy.
After delivery if your newborn is Rh-positive.
The shots only work for a short time, so you will need to repeat
this treatment each time you get pregnant. (To prevent sensitization in future
pregnancies, Rh immune globulin is also given when an Rh-negative woman has a
miscarriage, abortion, or ectopic pregnancy.)
The shots won't work if you are already Rh-sensitized.
How is it treated?
If you are Rh-sensitized, you will have regular testing to see
how your baby is doing. You may also need to see a doctor who
specializes in high-risk pregnancies (a perinatologist).
Treatment of the baby is based on how severe the loss of red
blood cells (anemia) is.
- If the baby?s anemia is mild, you will just
have more testing than usual while you are pregnant. The baby may not need any
special treatment after birth.
- If anemia is getting worse, it may
be safest to deliver the baby early. After delivery, some babies need a
blood transfusion or treatment for
- For severe anemia, a baby can have a blood transfusion
while still in the uterus. This can help keep the baby healthy until he or she
is mature enough to be delivered. You will most likely have an early
C-section, and the baby may need to have another blood
transfusion right after birth.
In the past, Rh sensitization was often deadly for the baby. But
improved testing and treatment mean that now most babies with Rh disease
survive and do well after birth.
Frequently Asked Questions