When the mother and baby have blood types that don’t mix well, it can harm both mother and child. In the baby, this condition is called hemolytic disease. Most of us have heard about different blood types. For example, O positive or A negative. In these examples, O is the blood type, and positive is the Rh factor. Here, we will discuss the Rh factor and birth injuries.
The Rh factor, or positive and negative blood type, is important. If a person who has an A positive blood type receives a blood transfusion with A negative blood, their body will react. The body will see the A negative blood as foreign and can attack itself. The body can have the same reaction when a mother carries a baby with a different blood type.
For example, if a mother has a negative blood type and her baby’s father has a positive one, there’s a chance hemolytic disease of the newborn can occur. The mother’s body may see the baby’s blood type as foreign and could attack the baby.
Rh Factor and Hemolytic Disease
When the mother’s antibodies attack the red blood cells, they will be destroyed. This makes the baby anemic. Anemia is dangerous because it makes it hard for the blood to carry oxygen to the baby’s organs. Hemolytic disease can cause:
- The baby’s body to make more red blood cells in the bone marrow and the liver and spleen. This causes these organs to get bigger.
- As the red blood cells break down, a substance called bilirubin is formed. Babies have a hard time getting rid of bilirubin. So, bilirubin can build up in their blood, tissue, and fluids. This causes yellowing of the baby’s skin. This is called jaundice.
- Hydrops fetalis. This occurs as the baby’s organs can’t handle the anemia. The heart begins to fail. Fluid builds up in the baby’s tissues and organs.
- Severe hyperbilirubinemia and jaundice.
- Kernicterus is the most severe form of hyperbilirubinemia and results from the buildup of bilirubin in the brain. This can cause seizures, brain damage, deafness, and death.
Doctors can prevent hemolytic disease by giving a woman an injection known as a RhoGAM shot. A woman may receive this shot around her 28th week of pregnancy if she has Rh negative blood.
How Is Hemolytic Anemia Treated?
Treatment options for a baby born with hemolytic anemia depend on how severe the baby’s anemia is at birth. Treatment options for hemolytic anemia include:
- Blood transfusion to increase the baby’s red blood cell count and to replace destroyed red blood cells
- Immunoglobulin to improve the baby’s immune system. A low red blood cell count makes it harder for the baby’s body to fight infection.
- Help for respiratory distress using oxygen, surfactant, or a machine to help the baby breath
- Temperature stabilization
- Surgery may be necessary to remove the baby’s spleen. The spleen is where the body destroys red blood cells. Doctors may have to take out the spleen if other treatment isn’t working.
Failure to treat babies born with hemolytic disease can result in serious birth injuries, including organ damage and brain injuries.
Contact a Birth Injury Attorney Familiar with Rh Factor and Birth Injuries
A doctor should treat a mother with a negative blood type as part of regular prenatal care. Care should be administered immediately to a baby born with hemolytic anemia to avoid severe and permanent birth injuries. Failure to properly care for mom and baby can result in harm to the child. If your baby has been injured by a neglectful doctor or nurse, contact Chelsie King Garza for a free consultation today.