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How do incompatible blood types affect the baby?

First, it is important to tell all mothers-to-be to try not to worry. All Rh-negative (RhD-negative) women who want to have a healthy baby and a problem-free pregnancy can be injected with a substance called anti-D immunoglobulin. This injection will prevent harm to the baby from Rh incompatibility.

If you are Rh negative and you are carrying an Rh positive baby, problems can arise if a small part of your blood mixes with your baby’s blood during pregnancy or birth.

There is a risk that your immune system will start producing antibodies against your baby’s blood. This may lead to anemia and other problems in your baby or problems in future pregnancies.

The injection will ensure that this does not happen. However, it can be very helpful to know the blood type of the baby’s father as it can help you decide if you need the shots.

We all belong to one of four blood types: A, B, AB or O. Except in very rare cases, it generally doesn’t matter if you are a different blood type to the baby’s father. What matters is the Rh factor – whether you are Rh positive or Rh negative.

People who are Rhesus factor positive have a protein on their red blood cells called the D antigen. If you are Rh negative, you do not have this antigen.

We inherit the Rh factor from our parents. About 85 percent of people of European descent have RhD-positive blood. For people of African and Asian descent, the figures are 94 and 90 percent, respectively.

Most of us are RhD-positive because we each inherit two copies of the Rh gene, one from each parent. These genes are either positive or negative. The positive gene is dominant and always wins.

– If you inherit one positive and one negative gene from your parents, you will be RhD-positive.

– If you inherit two positive genes, you will be Rh positive again.

– If both parents are RhD-negative, there is no chance that either of their babies will be RhD-positive. This is because neither parent has the positive gene to pass it on to the offspring.

– If both parents are RhD-positive, but both carry one positive and one negative gene, their baby should be Rh positive. However, it is also possible for these same parents to have RhD-negative children, but this will only happen if they both pass on the negative gene to their offspring.

– However, if one parent is RhD-negative and the other is RhD-positive, their baby can be both RhD-positive and negative.

All mothers undergo blood tests at the beginning of pregnancy to find out their blood type and Rh factor. If your partner turns out to be negative like you, then your baby will also be RhD-negative and there is no chance of Rh incompatibility.

If there is any doubt about who the father of your baby is, think carefully about whether your partner should be tested.

It is impossible for an RhD-negative person to father an RhD-positive baby. So if your partner tests negative and your baby is positive, he cannot be the father.

If you can’t figure out your partner’s status, don’t worry. Anti-D shots will protect your baby from the risk of Rh incompatibility.

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