Rh disease is a blood disorder that affects over 4,000 babies in the United States every year. This disease affects newborns every year because of an incompatibility between the mother's blood and her fetus during pregnancy. It causes severe destruction of the fetus' red blood cells. This disease does not affect the mother's health at all, but can result in the baby having yellow skin and eyes, anemia, brain damage, heart failure, or even cause death among some newborns.
An Rh factor in an inherited protein found on the surface of a person's red blood cells. When someone is born with out this factor, they are considered to be Rh negative. If a woman is Rh negative, and conceives a baby with an Rh-positive man, it is possible that her baby could inherit the father's Rh-positive blood. This is a problem because due to the fact that the mother and babies Rh factors are not the same, the mother's body often develops antibodies that try to fight off the baby's Rh-positive blood. These antibodies will then in turn destroy the fetal blood cells, resulting in Rh disease. When a woman's body develops these antibodies against her baby, it is called sensitization. A woman can find out if she is Rh-negative by receiving a simple blood test from her doctor or obstetrician.
If in fact a woman is Rh-negative and pregnant, there are two options that a woman can take. If it the woman'sfirst child she can often wait until she delivers the baby, and then receive an injection with in thefirst 72 hours after the baby was born. A woman can also receive an injection about 28 weeks into her pregnancy to help prevent the development of antibodies against the baby. If a woman opts to have the injections before birth, the injections must be repeated every 12 weeks. The injection that the woman receives is called immunoglobulin (RhIg) or RhoGam. This injection works to prevent the development or …