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Susan Warhus, MD

Your question:
I am 30 weeks pregnant and my doctor just told me that blood tests show that I have the Rh E antibody (IgM). What exactly is this, how is it caused, how does it affect me, and how does it affect my baby? Is there anything I can do?

The doctor answers:
First, I'd check with your doctor to confirm that you have Rh E antibody and not Rh D, which is more common and has more treatment options available. Rh E antibody is a special marker that is sometimes found on red blood cells. It's fairly rare, but it's important to know about it because your doctor will want to monitor your unborn baby more closely.

It's difficult to say how you got this antibody, but it's more commonly found in women that have had prior pregnancies and also in women who have received blood transfusions in the past.

The antibody poses no harm to you directly. However, the concern is that this antibody in your bloodstream might attack and destroy the blood of the unborn baby. This process is called hemolytic anemia, and can be extremely harmful to the baby.

The baby must be followed closely with specialized tests to watch for signs of hemolytic anemia. Most likely, your doctor will order additional ultrasounds and perhaps amniocentesis to check the amniotic fluid for signs of hemolytic anemia. If the baby begins to show signs of hemolytic anemia, certain treatment options are available. In some cases, the baby may be given a blood transfusion while still in your uterus. In other situations, the baby may be delivered earlier than the original due date so that it can receive necessary medical treatment in the nursery.

The best thing you can do is to educate yourself about this condition, (like you are doing!) and work closely with your doctor to assure that you and your baby receive the best medical care

Tags: blood rh

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