Blog Post

Does Blood Group Affect Pregnancy?

21 February 2018

Every day, around the world, blood typing is routinely used during pregnancy. The reason? Well, there’s a small risk that an unborn child might have a different blood group from the mother. If this occurs, it could lead to the mother’s immune system attacking her baby’s red blood cells – a condition known as rhesus disease.

What causes rhesus disease?

Rhesus disease happens when a mother has rhesus negative blood (RhD negative) and the baby in her womb has rhesus positive blood (RhD positive). She will also have been previously sensitised to RhD positive blood.

This usually occurs thanks to an earlier pregnancy with an RhD positive baby, which led her body to produce antibodies that recognised the foreign blood cells and destroy them.

So, the next time she’s pregnant with an RhD positive baby, her body will immediately produce antibodies that cross the placenta, causing rhesus disease in the unborn baby.

These antibodies can continue attacking the baby’s red blood cells after birth.

Preventing rhesus disease

Rhesus disease can be prevented using injections of a medication called anti-D immunoglobulin.

It’s the reason why women are offered blood tests as part of their antenatal screening to determine whether their blood is RhD negative or positive.

If the mother is RhD negative, she’ll be offered injections of anti-D immunoglobulin at certain points in her pregnancy when she may be exposed to the baby’s red blood cells. The medication helps to remove the RhD foetal blood cells before they can cause sensitisation.

Treating rhesus disease

If an unborn baby does develop rhesus disease, the treatment will depend on how severe it is - a blood transfusion may be needed in more severe cases. After delivery, the child is likely to be admitted to a specialist neonatal until.

Left untreated, severe cases of rhesus disease can lead to a stillbirth, brain damage, learning difficulties, deafness and blindness.

All of which explains why blood tests are a routine part of antenatal care in pregnancy.


To identify the risk, here at Lorne Labs we offer quality blood grouping reagents for Rhesus as well as ABO, Kell, MN&S and rare grouping sera manufactured in full compliance with BCSH/BBTS UK guidelines. Discover our offer today.

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