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Rh Disease

Rh Disease Causes

Rh disease is mostly attributed to an incompatibility of the mother's blood type to her baby's. Each individual has a distinct blood type as well as an Rh factor, which may be either positive or negative. When the mother's Rh factor and her infant's is positive, certain problems including Rh disease arise.

Rh Disease Definition

Rh disease, a condition affecting pregnant mothers, is one of the identified causes of hemolytic disease of the newborn (or HDN), and may range from mild to severe. In mild forms, Rh disease may cause mild anemia with reticulocytosis in the fetus. In moderate or severe forms, Rh disease can cause a more distinct anemia as well as erythroblastosis fetalis in the fetus. In its most severe form, the disease can lead to hydrops fetalis, morbus haemolyticus neonatorum, or even stillbirth. Rh disease is also alternatively called Rh (D) disease, RhD Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn, Rhesus disease, Rhesus D Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn or RhD HDN.

Rh Disease Diagnosis

Risks for the Rh positive fetus can be identified through blood testing of both parents. The disease may also be detected if a previous pregnancy bore an Rh positive infant. Family history and clinical physical exams are important diagnostic factors. In addition, screening the mother's blood for the presence of Rh positive antibodies may be done. An ultrasound is also recommended to detect any fluid accumulation or organ enlargement in the fetus. Amniocentesis may be required to measure the amount of bilirubin (which produces the yellowish color) in the amniotic fluid.

Rh Disease Symptoms and Signs

Affected mothers are usually asymptomatic. However, the Rh positive infant may experience problems if the mother develops antibodies to the disease. In the affected fetus, Rh disease presents with an enlarged liver, heart, or spleen. There may also be a build up of fluids in the fetus' abdomen. Also, amniocentesis, or a yellowish discoloration of the amniotic fluid, is often detected.

Rh Disease Treatment

Treatment for Rh disease will depend on the mother's health, medical history, and state of pregnancy. In addition, certain factors such as the severity of the disease and the mother's tolerance for specific medications are also considered. Common modes of treatment include intrauterine blood transfusions to control the fetus' movements and inducing early or preterm delivery to manage further complications.

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