- The babies may appear swollen.
- The babies look pale.
- They show symptoms of jaundice after birth.
- The babies may also have a larger than normal liver or spleen.
- Blood tests conducted may reveal a low red blood cell count.
They also experience the accumulation of fluids in body parts where fluids are not usually present.This Condition is known as hydropos Fetalis.
Fluids can accumulate in places such as abdomen,heart and lungs .
This symptom can be harmful because the extra fluid places pressure on the heart and affects its ability to pump.
What causes erythroblastocis fetalis?
The causes of erythroblatosis fetalis are two:
- ABO blood group incompatibility
- Rhesus factor incompatibility
Rhesus factor incompatibility occurs when a woman who is Rh negative is impregnated by a man who is Rh positive.
The result can be Rh positive baby,this is because 85% of rhesus are inherited from the father.
If your baby is positive and you are negative,the resultant effect will the fact that the Rh antigens in your baby’s blood will be perceived by your blood immune mechanisms as foreign invaders just like bacteria or viruses.
Your blood develop antibodies and attacks the baby’s blood to protect itself from perceived invaders,this attack ends up harming your baby and gives rise to destruction of red blood cells leading to erythroblastosis fetalis.
If you’re pregnant with your first baby, Rh incompatibility isn’t as much of a concern.
However, when the Rh-positive child is born, your body will create antibodies against the Rh factor. These antibodies will attack the blood cells if you ever become pregnant with another Rh-positive baby.
ABO incompatibility is another blood mismatch that can cause the maternal antibodies to attack the baby’s blood.
This occurs when the mothers blood type which could be A,B,O are incompatible with that of the baby.
ABO incompatibility is not as harmful as Rh incompatibility except when babies carries rare antigens that will put then at risk of erythroblastosis fetalis.
This rare antigens includes;
How can erythroblastosis fetalis be diagnosed.
The diagnosis of this disease condition is through routine blood tests during ante-natal visits to the hospital.
The doctor will carry out all the required blood tests to ascertain your blood type.The test will help the doctor to detect if there is presence of antibodies developed in your blood through previous pregnancy.
On few occasions,the fetus’s blood is also tested but this is rare because doing so can increase the risk of complications.
If prior testings reveals that your baby may be at a risk for erythroblastosis fetalis,the blood of the mother will under continous testing for antibodies all through the duration of the gestation period.
If your antibody levels start to rise, a doctor may recommend a test to detect fetal cerebral artery blood flow, which isn’t invasive to the baby.
Erythroblastosis fetalis is suspected if the baby’s blood flow is affected.
If your baby is jaundiced after birth, but Rh incompatibility isn’t a concern, the baby may be experiencing problems due to ABO incompatibility.
ABO incompatibility occurs most frequently when a mother with an O blood type gives birth to a baby who has an A, B, or AB blood type.
Because O blood types may produce both A and B antibodies, the mother’s blood can attack the baby’s. However, these symptoms are generally much milder than a Rh incompatibility.
ABO incompatibility can be detected via a blood test known as a coombs test.
This test, along with a test to determine the baby’s blood type, is performed after the baby is born. It can indicate why the baby may appear jaundiced or anemic.
These tests are usually done for all babies whose mothers have type O blood.
- Rh incompatibility
If the mother’s rhesus factor is negative,then the doctor needs to test the fathers blood.
If the father is Rh negative,then that settles it because there is no further testing is needed.They are matched and the baby will not be at a risk of erythroblastosis fetalis.
However, if the father’s blood type is Rh positive or their blood type isn’t known, your blood may be tested again between 18 -20 weeks of pregnancy, and again at 26 -27 weeks.
You’ll also receive treatment to prevent erythroblastosis fetalis.
Treatment of Erythroblastosis Fetalis
If a baby experiences erythroblastosis fetalis in the womb, they may be given intrauterine blood transfusions to reduce anemia.
When the baby’s lungs and heart mature enough for delivery, a doctor may recommend early delivery of the baby.
After a baby is born, further blood transfusions may be necessary.
Giving the baby intravenously may improve the Condition.
The baby may also need temporary breathing support from a ventilator or mechanical breathing machine.
Babies born with erythroblastosis fetalis should be monitored for at least three to four months for signs of anemia.
They may require additional blood transfusions.
Nevertheless is adequate prenatal and post natal care are delivered, erythroblastosis fetalis should be prevented and the baby shouldn’t experience long-term situation caused by the condition.
Prevention of Erythroblastosis Fetalis
A preventive treatment known as RhoGAM, or Rh immunoglobulin, can reduce a mother’s reaction to their baby’s Rh-positive blood cells. This is administered as a shot at around the 28th week of pregnancy.
The shot will reduce the rate at which the mothers antibodies attacks the antigens of the fetus,hence preventing the risk of erythroblastosis fetalis.