Preventing Rhesus Disease In Pregnancy

If you are rhesus positive then you can proceed with the pregnancy without worrying about the possibility of rhesus disease. However if you are rhesus negative, there are a number of preventative measures which can be applied to ensure the health and safety of your pregnancy. Usually another set of tests will be conducted to find out whether your body is producing the materials that would normally attack RhD positive cells. These are called anti-D antibodies, and finding out whether you have them tells your doctors whether or not you have been exposed to the rhesus D antigen before. This is important because if you have been exposed to the antigen, you will have become sensitised, which means that your body is now able to quickly recognise rhesus antigen D and generate anti-D antibodies quickly enough to pose a threat to your unborn child.

Prevention of rhesus disease if you are rhesus negative generally involves preventing sensitisation through the use of the anti-D immunoglobulin, which prevents the production of RhD antigens. Anti-D immunoglobulin will be offered after any event which may result in contact between maternal and foetal blood, and examples include invasive tests like amniocentesis and trauma to the abdomen. This preventative treatment can also be delivered regularly throughout the last three months of your pregnancy, also known as the third trimester. This routine application of anti-D immunoglobulin is referred to as RAADP (Routine Antenatal Anti-D Prophylaxis).

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