Rhesus-Negative (Anti-D)

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Rhesus Negative (Anti-D) and What It Means For You

You will be offered blood tests early in your pregnancy as part of your antenatal checks. The blood test will also check to see if your red blood cells have the rhesus protein on them. This will tell your care team whether you are rhesus negative or rhesus positive.

This is important because you may need treatment to prevent rhesus disease. This can happen during pregnancy if you are rhesus negative and your baby is rhesus positive.

Being rhesus negative is not a problem in your first pregnancy. But if you have more babies, there is a risk as anti-D antibodies can attack the baby’s red blood cells.

Although this is very rare, if it happens your baby may need treatment after birth or even before they’re born. It can cause the baby to become anaemic and develop newborn jaundice. Rhesus disease is uncommon because it can usually be prevented using injections of a medication called ‘anti-D immunoglobulin’ or ‘anti-D’.

When Is Anti-D Given?

Anti-D is usually given as an injection during pregnancy. It may be that you will be offered more than one dose. Your midwife will talk to you about why you might need more.

Anti-D may also be offered after anything happens that might trigger your immune system to attack your baby’s red blood cells. This could be a bleed or bump to the abdomen such as a fall or a car accident, or an invasive medical procedure. You will need to tell your midwife if something like this happens to you.

As with all medicines, it is your choice whether or not to take it. Some people may need time to consider this as Anti-D is a blood product.

After your baby has been born, their blood will be checked to see whether it is rhesus positive. This blood test is taken from the baby’s cord at birth, so don’t worry, it will not hurt your baby. If it is rhesus positive, and you aren’t immune, you’ll be offered another anti-D injection. This is important if you become pregnant again within the next few months. However, you may still need anti-D injections in your next pregnancy because the benefits of anti-D injections go away after a few months.
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