All About Rh Disease

How Is It Treated?

If your unborn baby is Rh-positive, your doctor will need to measure the levels of antibodies in your blood as pregnancy progresses. If high levels of antibodies are found, tests will be given to help determine whether the baby is developing anemia (a sign of Rh disease) and if so, how severe it may be. These tests may include amniocentesis and another procedure called cordocentesis, in which the doctor, guided by ultrasound, inserts a thin needle through the mother's abdomen into the umbilical cord to take a blood sample.

Based on test results, a doctor may advise inducing labor early, before the mother's antibodies destroy too many fetal blood cells. Or he may treat the fetus with a blood transfusion, usually using cordocentesis, as early as the 18th week of pregnancy.

After delivery, if the baby has jaundice, she may be given phototherapy -- placed under special blue lights. If jaundice does not respond to phototherapy, or if the baby is anemic, a blood transfusion may be necessary. But some cases of Rh disease are so mild that they require no treatment.

With widespread use of RhIg, few women today need to be concerned about Rh disease. You can protect your baby by learning your Rh status and, if you are Rh-negative, following your doctor's advice.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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